St. Mary's First Nation

About Us

Chief Candice Paul, St. Mary’s First Nation - video transcript from, and video available at: http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1433266681764/1433266771247

Transcript

St. Mary's First Nation is located on the North side of Fredericton in New Brunswick…

…we are an urban community…

We have approximately 1,850 members and …half residing on reserve…

St. Mary's Retail was established in the late nineties and one of the reasons was we realized that a lot of
our money was going outside the community and we wanted to keep it within.

Lisa Wilson, Director of Human Resources- St. Mary's FN/Retail Sales

We were looking to employ our band members and to try to create some economy here within our own community.

St. Mary's Retail is businesses that are owned and operated by St. Mary's First Nation- who locally employ a lot of community members as well as local North Side residents….

At last count I had 305 people on my employee list…

The Kchikhusis Commercial Centre is owned and operated by St. Mary's First Nation band.

The Kchikhusis Commercial Centre is what houses our businesses as well as we have commercial offices that we rent out to local businesses.

Chief Candice Paul:

Here at Kchikhusis Commercial Centre our priority for employment is our own members and that's important to us that we have as many members who want to work have a place that they can come to work…

…and we have seen lives transformed you know…from being on the unemployment now to having full time employment …

Patrick A. Brooks- Assistant Store Manager- St. Mary's Supermarket

I think it's great that a place like St. Mary's has the opportunities to provide employment to members of this community…

We have about 65 employees working for St. Mary's Supermarket…

…We've been able to develop excellent

Chief Candice Paul:

Here at Kchikhusis Commercial Centre our priority for employment is our own members and that's important to us that we have as many members who want to work have a place that they can come to work…
…and we have seen lives transformed you know…from being on the unemployment now to having full time employment …

Patrick A. Brooks:

I think it's great that a place like St. Mary's has the opportunities to provide employment to members of this community…

We have about 65 employees working for St. Mary's Supermarket…

…We've been able to develop excellent relationships with the people of Fredericton…especially North Side …

I think that roughly about 85% of our business comes from the non-native population that's around St. Mary's …

Cashier:

Thank you for Shopping St. Mary's Supermarket…have a great day!

Duska Nash- Assistant Gas Bar Manager- St. Mary's FN Retail Sales

I'm the assistant manager at St. Mary's Gas Bar.

I do day-to-day operations…running the gas bar…pumping gas some days…doing cash some days…

It can be very busy here at the gas bar.

Laurie Bottschen – Assistant Store Manager- St. Mary's Smoke Shop

It's actually very exciting and proud for me to say that…that I work for St. Mary's Retail Sales …

I enjoy working with the company and I see my future here most definitely.

Maggie Paul, Elder- St. Mary's First Nation

When the complex opened up I was really really happy for the people…I was happy for my people!

It's really something to see our people work…

There's quite a few people down here that been here ever since it opened and they love it!

Lisa Wilson:

We recently opened another division of St. Mary's First Nation Retail which is the Wolastoq Wharf

Restaurant- which is s a fine dining experience….

The Wolastoq Wharf is listed as one of the best places to eat in Canada…we're in the top five of Trip Advisor.

The Wharf Restaurant currently employs between 12 and 15 people in that division.

Chief Candice Paul:

I believe the success here at St. Mary's has been number one, providing employment for our people…
…number two is keeping the money within your community…

…and number three would be that we've developed great relationships with the surrounding area…with city residents…

… We're open for business and we're very proud of that.

St. Mary's First Nation Retail Sales visit: www.stmarysretail.com

For more information concerning Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada visit: www.aandc.gc.ca

Cultural

First Nations Cultures in Atlantic Canada The geographic area that is present day New Brunswick encompasses parts of the traditional homelands of the Mi'kmaq, Passamaquoddy and Wolastoqiyik. For more than a century and a half, the New Brunswick Museum has collected examples of fine and decorative art as well as written documentation relating to the presence of these three aboriginal groups. In addition, the New Brunswick Museum is fortunate to house approximately 175 images dating between 1860 and about 1950 that provide a visual point of access into many aspects of the daily life and history of the province's First Nations citizens.

Treaties

Treaty of 1725

The Submission and Agreement of the Delegates of the Eastern Indians (December 15, 1725, Boston, New England, British Possession) WHEREAS the Severall Tribes of Eastern Indians vis: The Penobscot, Maridgwalk, St. John, Cape Sables and other tribes Inhabiting within his Majesty's Territories of New England and Nova Scotia who have been engaged in the present War from whom Wesauguaaram alias Loron Arexus Francois Xavier and Meganumoe are delegated and fully impowred to enter into Articles of Pacification with his majesty's Governments of the Mass Bay New Hampshire and Nova Scotia, Have contrary to the several Treaties they have Solemnly intered into with the said Governments made an open rupture and have continued some years in Acts of Hostility against the subjects of His Majesty King George within the said Governments. they being now sensible of the miseries and troubles they have involved themselves in, and being desirous to be restored to His Majesty's Grace and favour and to live in peace with all His Majesty's Subjects of the said Three Governments, The Province of New York and Colonys of Conecticutt and Phod Island and that all former acts of injury be forgotten. Have concluded to make and we Do by these presents in the name and behalf of the said Tribes make our Submission unto his most Excellent majesty George by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland,King Defender of the faith in as full and ample manner as any of our Predecessors have heretofore done. And we do hereby promise and engage with the Honourable William Dummer Esq; as he is Lieutenant Governour and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay And with the Governours or Commanders in Chief of the Said Province for the time being. That is to say. We the said Delegates for and in behalf of the several Tribes abovesaid Do promise and engage that at all times forever from and after the date of these presents We and They will Erase and for bear all Acts of Hostility, Infuries and discords towards all the Subjects of the Crown of Great Britain and not offer the least hurt, violence or molestation to them or any of them in their persons or Estates, But will hence forward hold and maintain a firm and Constant Amity and Friendship with all the English, and will never confederate or combine with any other nation to their prejudice. That all the captives taken in the present War shall at or before the time of the further Ratification of this Treaty be restored without any ransom or payment to be made for them or any of them. That His Majesty's Subjects the English Shall and may peaceably and quietly enter upon Improve and forever enjoy all and singular their Rights of God and former Settlements properties and possessions within the Eastern parts of the said province of the Massachusetts Bay Together with all Islands, inletts Shoars Beaches and Fishery within the same without any molestation or claims by us or any other Indian and be in no ways molested interrupted or disturbed therein. Saving unto the Penobscot, Naridgwalk and other Tribes within His Majesty's province aforesaid and their natural Descendants respectively all their lands, Liberties and properties not by them convey'd or sold to or possessed by any of the English Subjects as aforesaid. As also the priviledge of fishing, hunting, and fowling as formerly. That all trade and Commerce which hereafter may be allowed betwixt the English and Indians shall be under such management and Regulations as the Government of the Mass. Province shall direct. If any Controversy or difference at any time hereafter happen to arise between any of the English and Indians for any reall or supposed wrong or injury done on either side no private Revenge shall be taken for the same but proper application shall be made to His Majesty's Government upon the place for Remedy or induse there of in a due course of Justice. We Submitting ourselves to be ruled and governed by His Majesty's Laws and desiring to have the benefit of the same. We also the said Delegates in behalf of the Tribes of Indians Inhabiting within the French Territories who have assisted us in this war for a term we are fully Impowered to Act in this present Treaty. Do hereby promise and ingage that they and every of them shall henceforth cease and forbear all acts of Hostility force and violence towards all and every the Subjects of His Majesty the King of Great Britain. We do further in behalf of the Tribe of the Penobscot Indians promise and engage that if any of the other Tribes intended to be included in this Treaty that notwithstanding Refuse to confirm and ratifie this present Treaty entered into on their behalf and continue or renew Acts of Hostility against the English. In such case and said Penobscot Tribe shall join their young men with the English in reducing them to reason. In the next place We the aforenamed Delegates. Do promise and engage with the Honourable John Wentworth Esq; as he is Lieutenant Governour and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Province of New Hampshire and with the Governour and Commanders in Chief of the said province for the time being that we and the tribes we are deputed from will henceforth erase and for bear all Acts of Hostility Injuries and discords towards all the Subjects of His Majesty King George within the said province And we do understand and take it that the said Government of New Hampshire is also included and excepting that respecting the regulating the trade with us. And further we the aforenamed Delegates do promise and ingage with the Honourable Lawrence Armstrong; Lieutenant Governour and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia or Acadie to live in peace with His Majesty's Good Subjects and their Dependants in the Government according to the Articles agreed on with Major Paul Makarene commissioned for that purpose and further to be Ratified as mentioned in the said Articles. That this present Treaty shall be accepted Ratified and confirmed in a public and solemn manner by the Chiefs of the several Eastern Tribes of Indians included Therein at Talmouth in Casco Bay sometime in the month of may next. In Testimony whereof we have signed these presents and affixed our Seals. Done in the presence of the Great and General Court of Assembly of the Province of Massachusetts Bay aforesaid. Being first read distinctly and interpreted by Capt. John Gyles, Capt. Samuel Jordan and Capt. Joseph Baries, Sworn Interpreters. Dated at the Council Chamber in Boston in New England this fifteenth Day of December Anno Dom. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Twenty Five. Annog 3 Ri Rex Georgy Magna Britania Duodecimo. Ganarraarum x Alt Loron Signed

Arexies x by Francois x Xavier by Meganumoe x

Treaties

Articles Of Submission and Agreement

Made at Boston, in New England, by Sanquaaram alias Loron Arexus, Francois Xavier and Meganumbe, delegates from Penobscott, Naridgwack, St. Johns, Cape Sables and other tribes inhabiting within His Majesty's territories of Nova Scotia or New England. Whereas His Majesty King George by concession of the Most Christain King, made at the Treaty of Utrecht, is become the rightful possessor of the Province of Nova Scotia or Acadia according to its ancient boundaries: We, the said Sanquaaram alias Loron Arexus, Francois Xavier and Meganumbe, delegates from the said tribes of Penobscott, Naridgwack, St. Johns, Cape Sables and other tribes inhabiting within His Majesty's said territories of Nova Scotia or Acadia and New England, do, in the name and behalf of the said tribes we represent, acknowledge His said Majesty King George's jurisdiction and dominion over the territories of the said Province of Nova Scotia or Acadia, and make our submission to His said Majesty in as ample a manner as we have formerly done to the Most Christian King. And we further promise on behalf of the said tribes we represent that the Indians shall not molest any of His Majestie's subjects or their dependants in their settlements already made or lawfully to be made, or in their carrying on their traffick and other affairs within the said Province. That if there happens any robbery or outrage committed by any of the Indians, the tribe or tribes they belong to shall cause satisfaction and restitution to be made to the parties injured. That the Indians shall not help to convey away any soldiers belonging to His Majestie's forts, but on the contrary shall bring back any soldier they shall find endeavouring to run away. That in the case of any misunderstanding, quarrel or injury between the English and the Indians no private revenge shall be taken, but application shall be made for redress according to His Majestie's laws. That if the Indians have made any prisoners belonging to the Government of Nova Scotia or Acadia during the course of the war they shall be released at or before the ratification of this treaty. That this treaty shall be ratified at Annapolis Royal. Dated at the Council Chamber in Boston, New England, this fifteenth day of December, Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and twenty-five, Annoq. Regni Regis Georgii, Magnae Britanniae, &c., Duodecimo. Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of the Great and General Court or Assembly of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay.

Treaties

In Witness Whereof

We, the underwritten Chiefs and others of the St. Johns, Cape Sables and other tribes of Indians and inhabiting within this His Majestie's Province of Nova Scotia or Acadia having had the several articles of the within written Instrument (being a true copy of what was signed in our behalf by Sanquaaram alias Loron Arexus, Francois Xavier and Maganumbe, our delegates at the Treaty of Peace concluded at Boston) distinctly read over, faithfully interpreted and by us well understood, do hereby for ourselves and in behalf of our respective tribes consent to ratifie and confirm all the within mentioned articles and that the same shall be binding to us and our heirs forever to all intents and purposes. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have signed, sealed and delivered these presents to the Honourable Lieut.-Governor in the presence of several officers belonging to His Majestie's troops and other gentlemen underwritten. Done at the Fort of Annapolis Royal, in Nova Scotia, this thirteenth day of May, in the first year of the reign of Our Sovereign Lord, George the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c., Annoq. Domini, 1728. In the presence of St. Johns River Indians

Treaties

The Articles of Peace on the other side

Concluded at Chebucto, the fifteenth of August one thousand seven hundred and forty-nine, with His Excellency Edward Cornwallis, Esqr., Capt. General, Governour and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia or Accadie,and signed by our deputies, having been communicated to us by Edward How, Esqr., one of His Majestys Council for said Province, and faithfully interpreted to us by Madame De Bellisle, inhabitant of this river, nominated by us for the purpose. We the Chiefs and Captains of the River St. Johns and places adjacent do for ourselves and our different Tribes conform and ratify the same to all intents and purposes. Given under our hands at the River St. Johns this fourth day of September, one thousand seven hundred and forty-nine, in the presence of the under written witnesses.

Treaties

FAQ

Q. What is a treaty? A. A treaty is a formal agreement between two or more nations which recognizes specific rights and obligations set out within the context of the treaty. Basically, treaties are meant to define the relationship between the signatories. The SCC decision in sioui, finds that treaties are mutually binding obligations, and solemn undertakings. Ininterpreting the spirit and intent of treaties, oral history and collective memory are both valid tools.

Q. Can anybody sign a treaty? A. According to international law, the only treaties which are recognized are those signed between nations or nation-states. The definitions for a nation-state involve having a territory, language, culture.

Q. When did the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet enter into treaties? A. The Mi'kmaq and Maliseet have a history of treaty making with other Aboriginal nations which pre-dates European arrival in North America.

Q. When did the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet enter into treaties with the British Crown? A. From the information that has been gathered to date, the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet first entered into a treaty with the British Crown with the Treaty of 1725, signed at Boston.

Q. What was the nature of the treaty relationship between the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet and the British Crown? A. The treaty signed at Boston in 1725 and all subsequent treaties were "Treaties of Peace and Friendship". The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi'kmaq and Maliseet title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship.

Our History

A Summary History of St. Marys to 1950 By Andrea Bear Nicholas Chair in Native Studies St. Thomas University

The following summary of St. Mary's history is based upon a set of documents collected and compiled by Dawn Brooks and Andrea Bear Nicholas of the Native Studies Program at St. Thomas University. The documents include journals, correspondence, government reports, newspaper articles, maps, paintings, and photographs drawn from a variety of sources, both published and unpublished. All texts have been recently translated into Maliseet by Darryl Nicholas and are scheduled to be published in the near future.

The official recognition of the St. Marys community on the old reserve occurred only in 1867, the year of Confederation, but there is evidence that the site was used as a campground at least as early as 1818, the year of the first dated painting of a wigwam on the site. Several other early paintings or drawings of wigwams in this location are mostly undated, but still strong testimony to the regular use of the site as a campground in the early 1800s.

It is likely that most of the people using the site in those days came from the nearest Maliseet village in Kingsclear (Pilick), but since our people still traveled regularly up and down river as part of their seasonal migrations, there was always a mix of people here from all villages--Madawaska, Tobique, Woodstock, and Meductic. There is little doubt that to most of the Maliseet travelers, the campground at St. Marys would have been attractive since it was close to markets in Fredericton where furs and traditional wares, such as baskets, moccasins, and snowshoes, could be traded for needed supplies.

The earliest written evidence of a Maliseet campground at St. Marys came in 1832 and again in 1841. In both cases the site was characterized as a campground and it is probably from this period that it became known as the camps or more insultingly, the Injun camps. The names of St. Marys and Devon came from the names used by the surrounding village which officially changed from St. Marys to Devon in 1917. The Maliseet name Sitansisk means literally Little Ste. Anne. It came from the fact that the main mission to the Maliseets in the area had been the church of Ste. Anne, located first at Ekwpahak, near Savage Island (another insulting name), and later at Kingsclear after 1794. The Catholic Church in Fredericton prior to 1760 had originally served a smaller congregation, hence the name Little St. Anne or Sitansis. While this name still refers to the city of Fredericton, over time it has come to be used as the Maliseet name for the community at St. Marys. In 1842 the community was first referred to as an Indian Settlement, but it was not until 1851 that its first census was taken. That only one family [Paul], out of seven on that census, is still represented at St. Marys today is evidence of the transitory nature of the population at the time. Most other surnames on that census, such as Wallace, Lola, Andrew, and Alexander, were from Kingsclear or elsewhere, and most subsequently also settled elsewhere.

Gabe Acquin is often recognized as the founder of the community of St. Marys, but he only arrived here in 1847, and it was already quite well established as a Maliseet settlement by that time. After Gabe moved to St. Marys he, too, continued to live a migratory lifestyle, for when the census-takers came in 1851, both he and his family were living downriver at Sheffield, probably at the place known as Wisawtahk. Gabe eventually settled more or less permanently at St. Marys, probably since he found regular employment as a guide for prominent Frederictonians as early as the 1850s, and his wife seems to have found a steady market in the city for her exquisite beadwork. He is said to have cleared as many as fourteen acres of land and planted a garden at St. Marys, but continued to live in a wigwam here until 1857 when he built what was possibly the first frame house on the old reserve. To the larger society, which considered wigwams and the migratory life as uncivilized, it was likely Gabes decision to plant a garden, clear land, and live in a frame house that brought him recognition as the founder of the St. Marys Indian community. To single him out for that distinction, however, is to dismiss the role of the unknown generations of Maliseets who lived on site at least as early as 1818.

While the Acquin name appeared regularly in the census lists of the settlement from 1861 on, so too did many other family names that are still here today, including Polchies, Sappier, Gabriel, and Sacobie, most of which came from Kingsclear. By 1861, in fact, the Indian population at St. Marys had mushroomed from the nine households in 1851 to twenty-eight, with many of the other family names, such as Atwin, Francis, Sabattis, and Lola, also coming from Kingsclear. While it is possible that Gabe invited these families to settle around him, as has been claimed, it is also likely that they came on their own and for the same kind of opportunities that Maliseets had found in the city of Fredericton for generations. Indeed, some such as Louis Sabattis, and Joe Mitchell, distinguished themselves in the city as accomplished hunting guides, while Peter Polchies, a noted artist and craftsman, found a ready market in Fredericton for his outstanding paddles and canoes. The large growth in population at St. Marys during these early decades may also be seen as symptomatic of more serious realities the massive theft of Maliseet lands and full-scale destruction of hunting territories, followed by widespread starvation, disease, and desperation for Maliseet people as a whole. These events have been characterized as the natural progress of civilization, but they were not natural, or even accidental. They were the direct consequences of greed and corruption on the part of wealthy colonial authorities who began by granting away huge tracts of Maliseet lands, often to themselves, and in direct violation of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Next they designated all ungranted lands as Crown lands, overlooked or participated in massive and uncontrolled lumbering operations, profited from huge land settlement schemes, passed the offensive 1844 act legalizing the management and disposal of lands reserved for Indians, and became directly involved in massive fraud as railroad barons/legislators by granting more Crown lands to one another.

It was, therefore, no coincidence that the middle 1800s were marked also by intense racism. It was the same period in which the colonization of Indigenous Peoples around the world was at its height. Anyone who wanted Indigenous lands and resources needed excuses or rationales to justify their actions; hence the prevalent depictions of colonized peoples around the world in the literature of the time as savage, uncivilized, ugly, lazy, and generally less than human. As offensive as this racist writing appears to us now, many examples have been included in our collection of writings on St. Marys, primarily to document the intense racism that Maliseet people experienced. In spite of the intensity of the racism, a picture emerges from the document collection of Maliseets as both strong and resourceful. Indeed, the small community at St. Marys demonstrated these qualities time and again, in its constant resistance to repeated removal efforts. Beginning in 1865, the land on which the Maliseets were living at St. Marys was sold to one Thomas Hughes. Prior to 1800 this land had been part of a large grant to a prominent Loyalist whose family seemed not to object that Maliseets camped regularly on their land. As the new owner, Thomas Hughes immediately threatened to eject the Indians, and they appealed quickly to government for help. In consideration for the fact that they had been living on the land for generations the government agreed to buy a piece of the Hughes land twelve rods wide for the Maliseets This purchase was accomplished, evidently, through the intervention of Lt. Governor Gordon, whom Gabe had guided and befriended. Much of this story is unclear, but Gabe claimed that in return for the deal, he agreed to give up a large piece of adjoining land (running back to where the railroad was later built), which he had cleared. When it was found that twelve rods was not enough to take in all of the camps, the Lt. Governor purchased an extra two rods of Hughes land, and apparently gave it to Gabe. This was likely the piece of land on the old reserve, on which Gabe lived until his death in 1901. Overall, the entire piece of land bought for the Maliseets measured two and a half acres.


With Confederation in 1867, Indians and their lands became the responsibility of the federal government. For the Maliseets the first federal Indian agent to be appointed (in 1872) was William Fisher, a Fredericton businessman and member of a prominent New Brunswick family. It was his job to inaugurate a set of coercive new laws aimed at assimilating and civilizing Indians through agriculture, schooling, and the gradual reduction of government assistance to Indians. Predictably, the new policies provoked loud complaints and much resistance from our people since they were implemented at the same time as increasingly restrictive fish and game laws and a world-wide depression. Once again, intense poverty and suffering were the consequences for Maliseets.

When Fisher insisted on sending St. Marys children to public school in 1874 the people flatly refused. By 1882, however, the decision seems to have been made for them to build a school on reserve, for in that year some land for the school was forcibly expropriated from Joseph Paul by Agent Fisher. Just how this decision to build a new school was reached is not recorded. What is known is that the Indian Act of 1880 gave Indian agents huge new powers to enforce the Indian Act, and education for Indians was now a priority of the government. The following year (1883) a second effort was undertaken to remove the people from St. Marys, which now comprised as many as 15 families. This time the effort was promoted by the Federal government, but this time the plan was to lure the residents to Tobique with promises of land and new houses. It was even suggested that those refusing to go should be denied further government assistance. But once again, the people of St. Marys resisted, and refused to be moved.

Unhappy with the stubbornness of the St. Marys people, government agents from this time forward seemed preoccupied with developing their arguments for removal. In every annual report agents recited the same litany of complaints about the St. Marys community not enough space for agriculture, crowded and unsightly dwellings, poor health of residents, opportunities for work limited to logging, rafting, guiding, trapping, and the making of baskets, moccasins, and canoes. Agent after agent bemoaned the still migratory lifestyle of the people, and generally blamed them for the poverty that had, in fact, been imposed on them by the theft of their lands and resources. In spite of all, most Maliseets at St. Marys maintained at least the migratory aspects of their traditional lifestyle by hunting, fishing and trapping when they could, and by traveling each summer downriver to make and sell their wares to the tourists.


The passage of the Indian Advancement Act in 1884 was designed to impose a municipal style of government on First Nations, but it brought no immediate change at St. Marys since this community was still considered to be merely an extension of Kingsclear. In fact, the people at St. Marys still worked closely with those of Kingsclear for in 1883 Anthony Sacobie, who was now more or less permanently settled at St. Marys, joined Captain Andrew Paul of Kingsclear in a mission to Ottawa to seek restoration of Maliseet lands at Ekwpahak. At the time, too, the St. Marys people still shared the same chief, Francis Toma, who had held his hereditary position since his fatherÃ'¢ââšÂââžÂ¢s death in 1844. Since Toma was a relatively old man in 1884, the new Indian Agent, James Farrell seems to have preferred waiting for him to die before imposing the new law.

After Tomas death in 1889, Farrell quietly brought in the new elective system at Kingsclear the following year, with no sign of resistance perhaps because he shrewdly combined the election with the annual religious observances of Corpus Christie at Kingsclear, which all Maliseets generally attended. But dissension arising from the divisive elective system finally came to a head in 1902 when Anthony Sacobie, who resided at St. Marys, defeated incumbent Andrew Paul of Kingsclear by one vote for the position of chief. So high were the feelings between the supporters of each candidate that it was decided to allow each man to be chief in his respective community. It was also decided that each community would hold separate elections thereafter. Unfortunately, this solution did not put an end to dissatisfaction with the elective system, for some years later Jim Paul of St. Marys begged the Department of Indian Affairs, to no avail, to discontinue the alien system citing serious dissension in his community as a consequence of elections.


In 1885 the first bridge over the St. John River in Fredericton was completed making access to the city much easier for the people at St. Marys. But at the same time, the establishment of factories that mass-produced canoes and shoepacks, using technologies learned from Maliseets, soon destroyed the market for the Maliseet-made articles. This development had huge consequences for most Maliseet families, and it gave them a new set of reasons for them to continue traveling far and wide to sell their wares, to guide white sportsmen, and to work in the woods and mills. Saint John, Gagetown, Avondale, and Grand Lake remained popular destinations for families from St. Marys, but some people traveled regularly as far as Bar Harbor, Maine, in search of the tourist-trade.

In the middle of the 1880s there were about twenty-five families living in eighteen dwellings on the two and a half acres at St. Marys. For much of the year these families traveled up and down the river camping at various places, including a new site in Oromocto. As this new settlement became more and more permanent, the government tried everything it could to send the people back to St. Marys, but after several years of effort the government eventually bought the land at Oromocto and established it as another Maliseet reserve in 1895. This soon raised old hopes that the Maliseets at St. Marys would abandon their crowded community and go to live permanently elsewhere, this time at Oromocto. While some did move to the new reserve, most stayed put at St. Marys.

Life on the old reserve, however, was anything but idyllic. During the decade of the nineties the Fredericton Boom Company, which was established next to the reserve on the north side, began to expand and take up more and more of the shoreline for its piers, boats, and logging operations. In order to maintain its practices unimpeded, the Boom Company worked hard to buy the loyalty of residents of the reserve. It regularly employed some Maliseet men and provided clean water to the community when the water supply became contaminated. Too many people, however, these gestures were suspect, and hardly sufficient to compensate for the serious damage done to the shoreline. Not surprisingly the dissension simmered, and the community became deeply divided. When petitions from the opposing sides were sent to Ottawa in 1901, nothing was done. Instead, the matter was dismissed as an internal dispute, even though it was the Boom Company that had instigated the dissension in the first place.

Through the influence of the Marysville industrialist and Member of Parliament, Alexander Gibson, a contribution from Indian Affairs funds was obtained in 1903 for building a separate entrance and seating area for Indians when the Catholic Church in Devon was rebuilt after fire destroyed the old church. This entrance and seating area still exist as witness to the segregation that was intended.


In 1905 elections were held separately at St. Marys and Kingsclear for the first time, only this time the Maliseets living in the new reserve at Oromocto were included as part of the St. Marys community. About the same time there were renewed and concerted efforts to remove the Maliseets from St. Marys altogether. It was now argued that there were too many bad influences near the community with Fredericton so readily accessible, the Boom Company on one side, and another mill under construction on the other side. Behind the scheme this time were the interests of local land-owners since the land on the old reserve was beginning to be considered prime property. Over the next several years correspondence between the Department of Indian Affairs and agents Farrell and James White (who succeeded Farrell after his death in 1909) was single-minded in its focus on the removal idea. This time the plan was to move the people to a site downriver where they were promised new homes and farms; providing they would consent to sell their land at St. Marys to help pay the cost of the move. While prospective farms were being considered, even Father John Ryan, the local priest and new Superintendent of Indian schools, became an enthusiastic promoter of the plan. But by 1910, after much ink had been spilled on the idea, there was still no agreement among the people of St. Marys, and the matter was abruptly dropped.

In 1911 new matters occupied the community at St. Marys. That summer smallpox was diagnosed in the household of Jim Paul. The house was immediately quarantined, and subsequently burned. In the same year the authorities decided that a new school was needed for the community, and so negotiations commenced with Jim Paul to sell a piece of the land his wife had inherited from her father, Gabe Acquin, in 1901. Pauls condition was that he wanted the government to build him a new house for the one that had been burned. The deal was struck, and both the new house and the new school were built in 1912.

From 1914 to 1918, the years of the First World War, there is little available documentation from St. Marys. At least five people from the tiny community served in the war, including four sons of Joe Paul, Arthur, John, William, and Martin. Shortly before the end of the war, the people of the town of Devon (formerly St. Marys) signed a petition reviving the old hope of removing the Indians from St. Marys once and for all. This time a new Indian Agent (Ben Griffiths) supported a plan to move the people to Kingsclear. Even the mayor of Fredericton and the infamous Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott, became involved in publicly backing the plan.


In the midst of these discussions the war ended and the Spanish Influenza struck the community with a vengeance. To accommodate and isolate the severely ill, the old school was used as a hospital. Many community members died in this epidemic, including all but two members of Joe Acquins family. In total disregard for the tragedy this terrible epidemic had visited on the community, the government forged ahead with its removal plans. By January, however, public opinion in the community had shifted drastically. Where some had agreed to go to Kingsclear early in November, not one still favored the plan in January of 1919.

For a while the government considered invoking extraordinary powers under the Indian Act to forcibly remove the people. Then it tried suggesting Oromocto, instead of Kingsclear, but still the people refused. In a poignant petition to government, the Maliseets of St. Marys claimed that removal to Oromocto would be an act of coercion, and a violation of both treaty and human rights. Still the government was not to be daunted. One department official even suggested allowing agreeable Maliseets to sell their property individually so that local people in Devon could begin acquiring the property. Then health officials were brought in to assess the situation, but this strategy backfired. Instead of convincing the people to move, the damning reports on conditions at St. Marys became a serious indictment of government neglect and penny-pinching. Suddenly, the project was dropped once again, and nothing more was said of it for nearly a decade. Not even a strong follow-up letter from the Board of Health in 1920 could move Duncan Campbell Scott to do anything about the situation.

Over the next several years a number of other issues came to the fore. Hoping to remedy a sharp decline in church attendance, the priest at St. Anthonys in Devon wrote the government to inquire if the Indian Act could be used to compel Maliseets at St. Marys to attend church. Though the Indian Act had become an enormously coercive authority over the lives of Indians, in this case, the answer was no. Chief Ben Brooks, meanwhile, wrote the government asking why Agent Griffiths would not help him when his people were arrested for violating provincial game laws. The imposition of these laws was a blatant violation of the treaties, but the government turned a deaf ear. Official policies of assimilation required that the treaties be ignored and that provincial laws be imposed, particularly where they served the interest of stamping out traditional ways of life.

It was not until a couple of new interventions from health authorities in 1927 that the Department of Indian Affairs took notice, once again, of the dire health conditions at St. Marys. Tuberculosis and other serious diseases were endemic in the community as a direct consequence of the severe lack of basic sanitary facilities. The refusal of Indian Affairs to address the situation now looked like deliberate punishment of the community for refusing to be relocated. With Duncan Campbell Scott still at the head of the Indian Department, the only steps he seemed interested in pursuing still had to do with relocation. Indeed, the old plan was now being reconsidered with a new twist the idea of a central reserve as a site to relocate all Maliseets, not only those from St. Marys, but also those from Woodstock and Oromocto. This project of centralizing Indians had been carried out in Nova Scotia, and authorities now believed it should be tried in New Brunswick.


Sol Brooks and others, however, adamantly refused to move anywhere except to expanded lands adjacent to the reserve. For a while, however, the closest available property that Agent Griffiths could find was the Pugh farm on the Nashwaaksis River, and it was seriously considered. Suddenly, in July of 1928 Duncan Campbell Scott learned of the possibility of purchasing the Hayes property nearer to the old reserve; and just as quickly, the plan to purchase the Pugh farm was scrapped. There seems to have been no objection from the people of St. Marys to the purchase of the Hayes lot as an addition to the reserve. By the fall of 1929 the transaction was completed in spite of strong opposition from local landowners, including one whose letters were filled with disturbingly racist arguments.

The following winter two houses already standing on the property were allotted to Isaac and John Paul and their families, and later in the winter of 1930 work crews began clearing land for other houses. By the fall of 1931 the first nine were completed, and the eldest members of the community were among the first to move into the new houses. In spite of complaints about substandard materials and workmanship seventeen more houses of similar design were ordered to be built in 1932. As people moved out of the old reserve the houses were ordered to be demolished, but it seems that some of them remained standing as late as 1973 when the last house was torn down.

During the Depression years of the 1930s, the records are filled with a variety of matters ranging from hunting issues, to doctors visits, and the administration of pensions for veterans of the First World War. Without the old skills of hunting, fishing, trapping, and basket-making, survival in those desperate years would have been much more difficult than it was. Due to ever tightening fish and game laws Maliseets ran afoul of the law more and more frequently, but they persisted in their practices, guided as much by the need to survive as by the memory of treaty promises made to their ancestors. Due to the determination of government to keep First Nations from maintaining traditional lifestyles and reclaiming stolen lands, the Indian Act now made it illegal for Indians to hire lawyers to pursue their rights. This was, no doubt, the reason for many letters, such as one written by Edward I. Paul, appealing directly to the government for recognition of the treaties. Still the federal government consistently refused to listen, leaving Maliseets to fend for themselves.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, twenty-one men from the community enlisted in the war, an unprecedented number for such a small community. In addition to the twenty-one there were two Native men, one from Manitoba and one from Saskatchewan, who served in the war, and married into the community at St. Marys.

Surprisingly, the centralization idea was still alive and well after the war, for it resurfaced with a vengeance in 1946. This time the federal government went ahead and purchased 500 acres adjoining the Kingsclear Reserve hoping to attract Indians from Oromocto, St. Marys, and Woodstock with promises of new homes, farm animals, and farm equipment. Still the people of St. Marys were resolutely opposed, as were those of Woodstock. Only a handful of families from Oromocto were finally enticed to move to Kingsclear, but for the people of St. Marys, one removal had been enough.

Our present document collection ends about 1950, leaving the last half century or so for future researchers to do. In brief, what can be said about the last fifty-five years is that the pressure for removal seems to have disappeared, but the struggles for survival as a people have continued unabated in the face of deliberate policies designed to extinguish our language, our traditions, and even our existence as a nation. While court decisions in recent years have tended to give some hope for the future, the ongoing assaults on our language, the arrests of our people by the province on lands we never surrendered, and the disrespect for our treaties are among the most visible examples of the war that continues against us.

Note: This text is keyed to the soon to be published collection of documents which contains all references and citations regarding sources used. While it is keyed to original documents we would like to think of this text as a work in process and will welcome any suggestions or corrections.

Draft Version #3, December1, 2005