Elsipogtog First Nation

The Elsipogtog First Nation /ɛlzɪˈbʊktʊk/, formerly called the Big Cove Band, is a Miꞌkmaq First Nations band government in New Brunswick, Canada. The First Nation's territory comprises Richibucto Reserve #15, lying 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) southwest of Rexton, New Brunswick on the Richibucto River off of Route 116.[1] It also comprises Soegao Reserve #35, lying 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) west of Moncton, New Brunswick.[1] As of April 2016, the registered Elsipogtog population is 3,313, with 2,587 living on reservations and 726 living off reservations.[2]

Elsipogtog First Nation
Elsipogtog Health Center
Elsipogtog First Nation
Location of Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick
Coordinates: 46°35′48″N 64°58′50″W
ProvinceNew Brunswick
CountyKent County
  ChiefArren Sock
  MPPatrick Finnigan (L)
  MLAKevin Arseneau (Green)
  Total17.72 km2 (6.84 sq mi)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Time zoneUTC-4 (Atlantic (AST))
  Summer (DST)UTC-3 (ADT)
NTS Map021I10


"Elsipogtog" or "L'sipuktuk" means "River of Fire". The area was also called the stronghold of Sikniktuk. The traditional district was assigned to the Mi'kmaq clan of Alguimou, or L'kimu. Misel Alguimou was baptised Michael Augustine in the 18th century. Chief Michael Augustine signed the Peace and Friendship Treaty with the British in 1761, on behalf of the Richibucto Tribe of Mi'kmaq. The Richibucto Reserve was established in 1802 and later reduced in size. Richibucto Reserve # 16 is also known as the Big Cove Reserve. It was also called Big Cove, Mesigig Oalnei, and currently known as Elsipogtog (Pacifique spelling), or L'sipuktuk (Francis-Smith variation) and Elsipogtog First Nation located in Weldford Parish, New Brunswick.

Suicide rate

In 1992, there were seven suicides involving youth and over 75 suicide attempts in the community. An inquest was held and one of the recommendations was the creation of a position at the school to help support the youth in the community.[3][4] The Elsipogtog Crisis Centre was also established in 1992 to help combat the large number of suicides in the community.[5]

Youth justice system

In 1995, the community held a Justice Awareness Day that led to the creation of a justice alternative for youth. This was due to the high youth suicide rate in Elsipogtog and the large percentage of their youth in the court system. The Elsipogtog Restorative Justice Program includes pre- and post-charge diversion system, mediation, group conferencing programs, and sentencing circles. The program allows the community to "decide what [is] best for itself in terms of resolving wrongdoing...by striving to resolve the effects of an offender's behaviour.[3]

Present day

The community has one school, Elsipogtog School, which has students from kindergarten to grade 8. Elsipogtog has a gas station, and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment which is open throughout the week.[6] There is a 7 day/week supermarket and a Pharmasave brand Pharmacy which are both 100% band owned and operated. There is also a holistic approach Health and Wellness Centre which has clinical and physician services available, as well as home and community care services, mental health and addiction services. There are community justice services available.

Protest Against Shale-Gas Project

In May 2013, members of Elsipogtog First Nation demonstrated their concern over the proposed shale-gas project and 2D seismic imaging done near their reserve by SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of Southwestern Energy Company. Workers were on site to conduct seismic exploration that uses sound wave technology to create images of underground shale beds that might contain natural gas. Many residents voiced their concerns about the planned hydraulic fracturing (fracking) through social media. Throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall of 2013, protesters blocked SWN Resources Canada workers from accessing their seismic equipment.They blocked Route 116, 134, Hwy 11. On July 24, 2013, a video was recorded of a First Nations protester strapping herself to bundles of Geophones and other equipment used by SWN Resources Canada for seismic testing on the site.[7] She slowed down the workers access to the equipment until the RCMP removed her later that day.[8] On Sept 29th, SWN's trucks were blocked by a mystery van and protesters gathered in support. Shortly afterward, a sacred fire was lit and maintained by a 12-year-old boy who watched over the prayers of the people. On October 1, 2013, a video was recorded of Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren James Sock delivering an eviction notice to SWN Resources Canada while dozens of protesters continued to block Route 134 in Rexton to prevent SWN Resources Canada from moving their exploration equipment.[9]

On October 7, 2013, a video was recorded of Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren James Sock and New Brunswick Premier David Alward addressing the media regarding the blockage of the shale gas research and the injunction regarding the blockade.[10]

On Thursday October 17, 2013, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police moved in to enforce a court injunction against a road blockade by shale-gas and fracking protesters. The situation "exploded in violence, sending dozens of people to jail and reducing five police cars to smouldering ruins".[11] The incident was made famous in a now-iconic photograph of activist Amanda Polchies kneeling before the police and holding an eagle feather. The RCMP said "more than 40 protesters were arrested for various offences including firearms offences, uttering threats, intimidation, mischief and for refusing to abide by a court injunction".[12] T.J. Burke, the lawyer for the Elsipogtog First Nation, confirmed Chief Arren Sock was among those arrested in the clash. "Chief Arren Sock and a few of his band council members were released a few hours after their arrests".[12] On Oct 18th, SWN applied for an indefinite injunction against a list of people including John and Jane Doe. Judge Rideout denied this injunction. On 29 November 2013, another shale-gas protest resulted in the arrest of five men.[13] Another report on the same day stated that 15 protesters were jailed for throwing rocks at vehicles.[14] Numerous arrests continued to occur in 2014.


Elsipogtog First Nation is composed of two parts as shown:

CommunityAreaLocationPopulationDate established
Richibucto 151,667.3 hectares (4,120 acres)8 kilometres (5.0 mi) southwest of Rexton1,937 (2016)[15]September 9, 1805
Soegao 35104.732 hectares (258.80 acres)5 kilometres (3.1 mi) west of Moncton0May 29, 2008


Richibucto 15

Notable people

  • Albert Levi, former chief and Order of Canada recipient
  • Mildred Milliea, language instructor and Order of Canada recipient
  • Everett Sanipass, former NHL player
  • Trey Lewis, professional hockey player

See also


  1. "Elsipogtog First Nation (Big Cove)". Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Archived from the original on 2016-06-16. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  2. "Elsipogtog First Nation – Registered Population". Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  3. Bell, Sandra Jean (2012). Young Offenders and Youth Justice: A Century After the Fact. Record Research, Inc. p. 347. ISBN 978-0-17-650174-7.
  4. "Suicide Among Aboriginal People: Royal Commission Report (MR131e)". Parliament of Canada. Archived from the original on 2016-05-08. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  5. "Positions". Elsipogtog Health & Wellness Centre. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  6. "Richibucto detachment". Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  7. "Elsipogtog:I am protecting the land and waters July 24, 2013". Chris Sabas. Youtube.com. July 24, 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07OxXf3-jDQ
  8. "Elsipogtog: An offering and a promise July 24, 2013".Chris Sabas. Youtube.com. July 24, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQmWYnm-QQk
  9. "First Nations chief issues eviction notice to SWN Resources". Irving Peter Paul Youtube.com October 1, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMuP0-7G8cM
  10. "Elsipogtog First Nation Chief: Arren James Sock and New Brunswick Premier David Alward face the media" Charles LeBlanc. Youtube.com October 7, 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbmGXYCatC0
  11. Galloway, Gloria; Taber, Jane (2013-10-18). "N.B. protesters plan more protests after violent clash with RCMP over shale-gas project". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  12. "RCMP, protesters withdraw after shale gas clash in Rexton". CBC News. 2013-10-17. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  13. "Anti-shale gas protest closes N.B. highway for hours". CBC News. 2013-11-29. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  14. "N.B. shale gas protest turns violent as rocks hurled at police vehicles". National Post. 2013-11-29. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  15. "Census Profile, 2016 Census Richibucto 15, Indian reserve [Census subdivision], New Brunswick". Statistics Canada. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  16. Census 2011
  17. Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006 census
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