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Our Story

The official recognition of the St. Mary’s 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.

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Our Values

We, the Chief & Council and Staff, are honoured and committed to serving the membership of the St. Mary’s First Nation in a responsible, accountable and trustworthy manner, as we strive for a better tomorrow.

We believe in and respect our Maliseet traditions, language and culture. We advocate, educate and preserve our proud Maliseet history and our aboriginal treaty rights.

Working as a unified and dedicated team, we demonstrate our responsible leadership through an open, honest and ethical actions. We are committed to always act in the best interest of all members.

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Governance

St. Mary’s First Nation operates under the Indian Act of Canada; federal legislation enacted by the parliament of Canada. It is governed by one Chief and twelve Councillors that are elected every two years by St. Mary’s band members.

Our History

Hover over each point of the constellation to read the history of St. Mary’s First Nations.

1818

Old St. Mary’s Reserve, located on present-day Union Street, depicted in paintings of the area.

1842

Indigenous Community recorded as an Indian Settlement.

1844

Francis Toma appointed as hereditary chief of Kingsclear, as well as St. Mary’s as it was considered a satellite settlement of Kingsclear at the time, following the death of his father.

1847

Gabe Acquin first arrives, living as a migrant between St. Mary’s and Wisawtahk (Sheffield)

1851

First census of the community takes place, with 9 households being noted.

1857

Gabe Acquin starts work on a frame house, clears land and plants a garden, leading to colonists naming him the founder of the St. Mary’s community despite previous generations of residents.

1861

Census update shows the community had grown to 26 households.

1865

The land which the community had been residing was sold to Thomas Hughes

1867

Confederation of Canada formally entrenches St. Mary’s Band as a recognized indigenous group.

1872

William Fisher appointed as Indian Agent for St. Mary’s Band, with Fisher eventually demanding Wolastoqiyik children be sent to public schools; many families did not comply.

1882

Community land was expropriated by the government to construct a school in the community.

1883

Federal government attempts to entice residents of St. Mary’s to migrate to Tobique, promising new houses and larger allocations of land; government assistance threatened to be cut if residents remained. The community rejected these offers and stayed put.

1889

Francis Toma dies, allowing Indian Agents an easier opportunity to enact new laws requiring chiefs be elected rather than chosen by hereditary means.

1902

Divisive election held in communities of St. Mary’s and Kingsclear, with one vote separating the two candidates from one another. This would lead to two chiefs being selected and all future elections being conducted separately.

1911-1912

Smallpox was identified in the home of Jim Paul, whose home was quarantined and then burned. Paul later agreed to sell some of his property to allow for the construction of a new school for the community and a replacement home for himself to be constructed.

1914-1919

At least five members of the community join the Canadian military and serve in World War 1. During this time, federal and local governments started discussions of relocating the Wolastoqiyik of St. Mary’s to Tobique. Talks of relocation failed in 1919 as residents refuse to move.

1929-1930

After years of failed discussions, government buys an additional plot of land adjacent to the old reserve.

1931-1932

The first nine new homes were completed in 1931, with elders being given priority for housing. The following year 17 more homes of a similar fashion were built despite complaints around their materials and workmanship.

2002

Land acquisitions expand St. Mary’s owned property to cover 308 hectares.