word “Elsipogtog” literally translates into “Great Fire”. It is
said that Elsipogtog was once the gathering place for the seven
districts of the Migmag Nation.
people lived along the Richibucto River,
on the coast and far inland for thousands of years. Nature provided
everything the families needed for food, medicines, shelter, clothing,
transportation and tools.
the arrival of European settlers on the territory, life changed
gradually for the Migmag people, and wars between the British and the
French resulted in the establishment of Reserves. When it was created in
1802, the Richibucto River
area Reserve covered an area of 51,200 acres. Today, the Elsipogtog
Reserve occupies an area of 2,222 acres. Formerly known as Big Cove,
Elsipogtog has a population of 2781 of which at least 300 reside off
reserve, which makes it the largest native community in New Brunswick.
Over the years, this First Nation community has established all the
necessary services and modern facilities for their people.
modern day challenges affecting First Nations People everywhere,
Elsipogtog continues to grow and prosper. Many recent initiatives such
as the Salmon Restoration Project, brings hope and pride to residents
that value the importance of creating health, wellness and
sustainability for their people and their community.
the past, fishing, hunting and gathering was an important aspect of the
Migmag way of life, permitting them to live in harmony with nature for
thousands of years. The most valuable fish for the Migmag was the
Atlantic Salmon or ‘Pulamoo’ in the Migmag language, which they
could find in abundance in rivers across their territory. Being one of
their main food supplies, Salmon has always been closely related to
the past few decades, the Richibucto river has not been able to sustain
a healthy salmon population like it had for hundreds, perhaps thousands
of years. Salmon fishing had to be closed or limited in order to
preserve the resource and save it from being extinct like in other
arising concerns for this fish species and its effects on the people of
their community and the region’s ecosystems, the Salmon Restoration
Project was initiated by the Elsipogtog First Nation. This was
undertaken in their efforts to claim back their Migmag heritage, and the
empowerment of their river; the Richibucto River.
This heritage is traditional values that are based on laws of
livelihood, which have been passed on for generations. Those values
promote health and wellness for the people and the environment in which
Firmin LeBlanc (left) from Kouchibouguac National Park and Blayne Peters (right) from
Elsipogtog First Nation are fishing the nets for salmons.
main goal of this project is to conduct a scientific assessment of the
fish stocks of the Richibucto River.
Several objectives were defined so as to reach that goal. The objectives
are as follows;
data on the status of Atlantic Salmon in the Richibucto River.
data on all other species caught during the study.
Atlantic Salmon brood stocks for restoration purposes.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge and “western science” during
the course of this study.
collaboration with its partners, Elsipogtog First Nation can establish
the best practices of ecosystem management that are necessary for the
restoration and protection of salmon populations.
restoration work involves capturing salmon brood stock during fall
migration from the Richibucto River
and transferring them to the Miramichi Salmon
for spawning. Once the eggs are collected and fertilized they are placed
in trays within tanks and they grow to become small fry. The small
salmon grow in tanks at the hatchery for one year until the next fall
until they are released at various sites that have suitable habitat
within the watershed.
important aspect of the project is the salmon population assessment. The
mark-recapture method is being used to conduct this assessment. This
method calls for the use of two fish traps. There must be several
kilometers between the two catching sites. The fish caught in the
downstream trap are measured, sexed and a scale sample is taken for
aging the fish. They are tagged and then released into the river with
the hope that we will catch them again in the upstream trap.
The data collected are then processed and analyzed which allows
population estimates to be calculated.
The release of small salmon (parrs) into the Richibucto River on Oct
7, 2005 as part of the celebration during Elsipogtog Day.
(photo: Lea Anne Steal)
project has a strong education component.
Children from Elsipogtog Elementary
School are involved in salmon restoration in various ways including;
visits to the hatchery, growing small fish in the classroom, and
releasing small parrs into the river. Results from the project are
regularly published in the community newspaper ``Elsipogtogoei`` and
other local newspapers. A website is being developed and will be
launched on June 16, 2006 at the Elsipogtog
School. Elders are also
Involved and consulted during the process and there is a large part of
traditional ecological knowledge used in the project, along with a
hope this project will bring back the salmon or "Pulamoo" to
to a level where Elsipogtog First Nation people, and others, can
appreciate the presence of this species for several generations to come.
quote Councilor Kenneth Francis "If you understand conservation,
then you don't have to limit you’re activities."
Restoration Project Website: http://elsipogtog.ca