Kitigan Zibi

Kitigan Zibi (also known as River Desert, and designated as Maniwaki 18 until 1994) is a First Nations reserve of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, an Algonquin band. It is situated at the confluence of the Désert and Gatineau Rivers, and borders south-west on the Town of Maniwaki in the Outaouais region of Quebec, Canada. Having a total area of 183.9 square kilometres (71.0 sq mi),[2] it is the largest Algonquin Nation in Canada, in both area and population.[4]

Kitigan Zibi
First Nations Reserve
Welcome sign
Coordinates: 46°20′N 75°58′W
  TypeBand council
  ChiefJean-Guy Whiteduck
  Federal ridingPontiac
  Prov. ridingGatineau
  Total183.90 km2 (71.00 sq mi)
  Land172.07 km2 (66.44 sq mi)
  Density8.1/km2 (21/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (EST)
  Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (EDT)
Postal Code
Area code(s)819

Present in the reserve are grocery and hardware supermarkets, gas station, elementary and secondary schools with a library accessible to the whole community, gift shops, a community radio station, a day-care, a community hall, a health centre, a police department, a youth centre, a wildlife centre, and an educational and cultural centre.[4][5]


Kitigàn means "garden" or "cultivated land." Since Algonquins were historically not farmers, it may be that, in this case, this name originated as a reference to a clearing made by the Hudson's Bay Company for the establishment of its post, dependencies, and the adjoining garden.[5]


The reserve is bounded by the Eagle River along its west side, by the Desert River on the north side, and the Gatineau River on the east side. Most of its development is along or near Highway 105, while forest still covers much of the reserve. It is also home to 13 fresh water lakes with areas in excess of 250,000 square metres (2,700,000 sq ft; 25 ha; 62 acres) and approximately 29 smaller lakes and streams located throughout the territory.

Fish species found within these waters are walleye, pike, bass, trout, carp, catfish, and fresh water sturgeon. Mammals found within the reserve include beaver, muskrat, fisher, marten, mink, otter, bobcat, lynx, cougar, deer, black bear, wolf, and moose.


The history of the reserve is closely linked to that of the Town of Maniwaki, which developed concurrently.

In the first half of the 19th century, Algonquins of the mission at Lake of Two Mountains, under the leadership of Chief Pakinawatik, came to the area of the Désert River. Shortly after in 1832, the Hudson's Bay Company followed them and installed a trading post at the mouth of this river (now within the municipal boundaries of Maniwaki). A decade later, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate established the mission of Notre-Dame-du-Desert and, from 1849, they demanded of the authorities the demarcation of a township in order to establish a reserve for the Algonquins. Chief Pakinawatik, along with other leaders, journeyed by canoe on three separate occasions to Upper Canada (Toronto) and negotiated the terms for the setting aside of the reserve land. The township limits were drawn in 1850 and given the name of Maniwaki by the Oblates at this time.[5] In Algonquin language, the place was identified as Kitigànsìpì or Kitigàn Zìbì, meaning "Garden River."[6]

Legally established in 1851, the reserve was demarcated in 1853. In the decree implementing it, the reserve was called "Manawaki" and also "River Desert". The name "Kitigan Zibi" came to replace the other two on September 24, 1994, when the band council gave this title to the reserve.[5]

Because of land claim settlements in the late 1990s, small portions of land of the Town of Maniwaki were added to Kitigan Zibi. The federal government concluded 18 March 2019 an agreement to pay the Kitigan Zibi community $116 million, settling 29 claims for Indian reserve land appropriated between 1873 and 1917 for the town site of Maniwaki. [7] The same community filed in December 2016 a claim in Ontario Superior Court, claiming it never surrendered and still owns the land in Ottawa on which Parliament of Canada stands. [8]

Concerned about the disinterest of its youth in their own language, the community has decided to reintroduce the teaching of the Algonquin language in school.[5]


As of September 2012, the registered population of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation is 2,988 members, of whom 1,560 live on the Kitigan Zibi reserve, 28 live on another reserve or crown land, and 1,400 live off reserve.[1]

Canada census – Kitigan Zibi community profile
2011 2006
Population: 1401 (20.3% from 2006) 1165 (7.8% from 2001)
Land area: 172.07 km2 (66.44 sq mi) 172.07 km2 (66.44 sq mi)
Population density: 8.1/km2 (21/sq mi) 6.8/km2 (18/sq mi)
Median age: N/A (M: N/A, F: N/A) 33.4 (M: 28.9, F: 36.2)
Total private dwellings: 531 482
Median household income: $30,776 $26,944
Notes: 2011 data quality affected by a global non response rate higher than 25%. – References: 2011[3] 2006[9] earlier[10]

Canada Census data before 2001:[11]

  • Population in 1996: 969 (+41.9% from 1991: adjusted for boundary change)
  • Population in 1991: 563



  • English as first language: 66%
  • French as first language: 13%
  • Other as first language: 21%

List of chiefs

  • Chief Antoine Pakinawatik - 1854-1874
  • Chief Peter Tenasco - 1874-1884, 1890–1896
  • Chief Simon Odjick - 1884-1890
  • Chief Louizon Commanda - 1896-1899
  • Chief John Tenasco - 1899-1911
  • Chief Michael Commanda - 1911-1917
  • Chief John Cayer - 1917-1920
  • Chief John B. Chabot - 1920-1924, 1939–1951
  • Chief Vincent Odjick - 1927-1933
  • Chief Patrick Brascoupe - 1933-1936
  • Chief Abraham McDougall - 1936-1939
  • Chief William Commanda - 1951-1970
  • Chief Ernest McGregor - 1970-1976
  • Chief Jean Guy Whiteduck - 1976-2006
  • Chief Stephen McGregor - 2006-2008
  • Chief Gilbert Whiteduck - 2008-2015
  • Chief Jean-Guy Whiteduck - 2015-present day

Culture and tourism

The Kitigan Zibi Pow Wow is held annually, on the first weekend of June. The Kitigan Zibi Cultural Centre has a number of exhibits, cultural artifacts, paintings, and photographs relating to the Algonquin culture and history. A living museum, Mawandoseg Kitigan Zibi, is dedicated to traditional Anishinaabeg way of life.[4]


  1. "Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg". First Nation Profiles. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Archived from the original on 12 June 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  2. "Kitigan Zibi". Répertoire des municipalités (in French). Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l'Occupation du territoire. Retrieved 2012-10-26.
  3. "2011 Community Profiles". 2011 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. July 5, 2013. Retrieved 2012-10-26.
  4. "Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Member Community Page". Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  5. "Kitigan Zibi (Réserve indienne)" (in French). Commission de toponymie du Québec. Retrieved 2012-10-26.
  6. "Maniwaki (Ville)" (in French). Commission de toponymie du Québec. Retrieved 2012-10-26.
  8. National Post, 8 Dec. 2016
  9. "2006 Community Profiles". 2006 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. March 30, 2011. Retrieved 2012-10-26.
  10. "2001 Community Profiles". 2001 Canadian Census. Statistics Canada. February 17, 2012.
  11. Statistics Canada: 1996 census
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