Héritage de "Blum" (saumon)
En remontant la nuit des temps, la Première Nation de la Tobique,
située aux confluent des rivières Saint-Jean et Tobique au Nouveau-
Brunswick, a jouit d'une alliance et d'une relation étroite avec les deux
rivières adjacentes qui leur ont donné un approvisionnement illimité en
Le premier effet déstabilisant vint en 1492 avec l'arrivée des
Européens en ce pays. En deuxième lieu, le processus "mieleux"
et chargé de revenus arrive par l'entremise d'ententes séparées avec
les bandes sur les droits de pêche, négociées une réserve à la fois,
ce qui enlève essentiellement le contrôle aux autochtones et le remet
entièrement dans les mains des gouvernements provincial et fédéral.
Le deuxième enjeu majeur est la destruction démentielle et
délibérée du saumon de rivière par ces deux niveaux de gouvernements
pour le bien-être économique des corporations. La construction de
barrages a causé la perte permanente du saumon et, conséquemment, la
perte permanente de la source de nourriture et le gagne-pain des
autochtones. Le saumon qui remontait les rivières St-Jean et Tobique
n'est plus maintenant qu'un bon souvenir ou une simple note au bas de la
page de l'histoire des autochtones et du Nouveau-Brunswick.
Legacy of the
Tobique First Nation
November 10, 2002
time immemorial, Tobique First Nation, located at the confluence of
and Tobique rivers in
New Brunswick, had enjoyed a remarkably close attachment and alliance with the two
adjacent rivers that gave them a boundless supply of salmon.
In latter times however, that good relationship
with the rivers and salmon has progressively diminished.
The first destabilizing effect came with the arrival of the
Europeans to this country in 1492. The visitors not only liked the
land they saw, but coveted, almost insanely, the virgin territory. So
began the settling practice. For at least a short time, native people outnumbered the Europeans by a huge margin. But with the mad rush to
settle, exploit and overtake the land, hordes of immigrants drifted
onto the land.
As their numbers increased, so did their aggression to force their
issues and policies on native people. In time, they established
governments and bureaucracies to rule their lives. The Indians were
swallowed up by these conventions, which were foreign to the
Among those foreign regulations was the policy over the domain and
use of the rivers. This originally didn't affect Indian fishing too
radically, but as time progressed to the 19th and 20th centuries, the
Indian was forced to take the back seat (or no seat at all) in the
running of things, such as who controls fishing, where fishing can be
done, who has priority over what, or who has no rights at all.
Presently, the situation has reached the precarious state whereby
Indians are now forced to abide by white regulations, which are
'honey-dipped' to make them more palatable and impose severe penalties
if they are not followed. The 'honey-dipped,' revenue-laden process
comes through separate band fishing agreements, reserve-by-reserve,
which essentially takes total control away from Native hands, leaving
the provincial and federal governments completely at the helm. Today,
the abundance and availability of salmon on reserves is at an all-time
low, if not completely destroyed. That is the number one major effect.
The second major issue is the forceful and
deliberate destruction of river salmon by the two levels of government
for corporate interests.
In their search to prop up jobs and the economy
in the province of New Brunswick, the provincial seers of the 1940’s
and 1950’s decided to attract corporations into the province by
luring them with quick and easy ways to start businesses.
One of the corporations that decided to accept
the provincial offer was a mining company who found rich veins of
gold, silver, iron, etc, lying in the north-eastern part of the
province. But to
successfully mine these rich ores took a lot of electric power, which
the province was willing to provide at little or no cost. The main
concern in securing this abundant cheap power was that the company
must employ a lot of New Brunswickers.
As history can now record, the companies agreed
with the province to go it together, and the clamour to start building
hydroelectric dams began.
Mactaquac Hydro Generating
(photo : NB Imagebank)
In the 40’s and 50’s, the boom and mania of dam building began at
rocket speed. First, the
buffer and coffer type dams to supply and support the larger down
river dams started appearing in the upper regions of
Each dam was engineered to accommodate the annual salmon run either
by a by-pass contraption of some sorts, or a fish lift. None
of these devises worked effectively however, and resulted in a great
loss of the Atlantic salmon every successive year thereafter. To
date, the only salmon available above these hydro dams are those
caught by huge scooping processes below the dam and transported by
truck to upper parts of the river. Records have shown that since the
1950’s, no natural migratory salmon has made its way through the
maze of obstacles put in their way by the dams.
The building of dams has caused the permanent loss of salmon and
the permanent loss of our peoples’ primary source of food and
livelihood. Our people have never received any compensation for this
loss; whereas white Eurocanadians received some form of compensation
from their government for their loss of livelihood.
As the smaller dams, buffer and coffer, were completed, the main
huge megawatts river dams were started in sequence. The
first of these three was the Tobique Dam, completed in 1952. The
second, of a little bigger size, was at Beechwood, completed around
1957. The third and
largest one was built at Mactaquac, near Kingsclear Indian Reserve,
completed in 1960-61.
on lake at head of the main Tobique River,
Victoria County. G.T. Taylor, c. 1906 (PANB)
At this time, the salmon that run up the
and Tobique rivers are just a memory or a footnote in
and every type of activity and native livelihood made from the river
and the Atlantic salmon is remembered in the same way.