Our Community: Eel Ground First Nation
|Eel Ground is a First
Nation Community situated on the banks of the Miramichi River
in northern New Brunswick, Canada. It has a population of 801
residents. This community is much older than the nation of Canada
itself. Its residents are the Micmac Indian people. The Eel Ground
people are very proud of their community and its steps to keep
up with the modern world, and yet keeping sacred, the
values and traditions of their elders. It is this balance that
makes Eel Ground a unique community.
||Our flag was designed
by Red Bank artist, Philip Young, and was adopted by Eel Ground
in the mid-1980's. The circle represents unity and strength of
Native people. The 4 directions represent the 4 seasons and 4
stages of life. The color red represents strength and power,
yellow represents the sun, blue represents the water and the
sky, and green represents the natural colors of nature.
Micmac keep many stories alive by handing them down verbally,
and according to a local historian, Llyod Ginnish, one of the
more popular local stories tells of the Micmac Treaty with the
British in 1761:
|| The British said to an Eel Ground
Leader, "This is the last time I shall come ashore with
my proposal. As long as the sun shines and the grass grows, I
will support you. I shall give you your living, food, and clothes.
If you die, it will not be because of any fault of mine; if I
die it will not be of any fault of yours." The Indian said,
They dug a grave four feet deep and the Indian said to the British,
"Put your bayonet in first, the French bayonet on it, and
the Indian will put his battle axe on them. You see me put one
in. I will never take one out. If I do take mine out, I promise
you that I will finish you, but I will never take it out, unless
it is through your fault."
Many nations tell of similar stories of their origins.
Eel Ground First Nation was limited as a result of a treaty between
King John Julien and King George. At that time England's King
George had given Eel Ground six miles of land on both sides of
the Southwest and Little Southwest Miramichi.
Today Eel Ground consists of three tracts of land. Eel Ground
# 2 is the tract of land that the majority of the people live
on and is known as the Eel Ground reserve. The other two tracts
of land are the Hole Tract #8 and the Renous Tract #12.
Eel Ground Chiefs: (1779-present)
|King John Julian
|King Andrew Julian
|Peter N. Julian
|Peter N. Julian
||Alex Wilfred Ward
|Peter J. McKay
||1996 to present
After 1841 a modified form of tribal government was maintained
at Eel Ground until 1888. After Confederation, however, the government
of Canada did not recognize Indian tribes and the Eel Ground Indians
became an official Band and their Chief, an official Band Chief.
The names of the Chiefs from 1871 to 1894 were extracted from
Indian Affairs Records held at the public Archives of Canada.
The name of the Chief elected in 1897 was extracted from the
list of Indian Chiefs and the Counselors, Annual Report of Indian
When democratic elections were introduced at Eel Ground in
1888 . The traces of "traditional" government were erased.
The sense of community and the shared heritage, however, remains
strong among the Micmacs of the Miramichi today.
||The Band Hall is the center
of the community. It holds the offices of Chief George Ginnish
and Council as well as being the home of the community's Social
Services. The building's assembly hall hosts weekly bingos, wedding
receptions, and other community events. The Band Hall has also
been the central venue for an International Environmental Conferences
where Robert Kennedy Jr. and National Chief, Matthew Coomcome
were keynote speakers.
|The Eel Ground School
was built in 1978 and has seen it's enrollment triple since then.
It houses grades k-8. In 1998, the School finished 4th in the
Cyberfair. At the start of the school year, the school purchased
over 20 new i-macs, and the students are benefiting greatly from
the new technology. The school has a fantastic staff, dedicated
students, and an ever-improving academic record. From early grades,
there is a focus on the retention of Native Culture. The School's
principal is Mr. Peter MacDonald.
||The Rising Sun is a 12
bed co-ed facility that addresses alcohol and drug issues. The
program is a 32-day in-patient cycle. The program concentrates
on medicine wheel teachings. There are 6 full time staff members
and 1 part-time member. The facility services 11 First Nations
communities in New Brunswick as well as other First Nations in
Canada. It was founded in 1988 by Roger Augustine and the present
Executive Director is Joyce Paul.
|Straight Arrow Specialized
Lumber Products is the first Aboriginal business of its kind
in New Brunswick. This community based company operated by the
Eel Ground Community Development Center Inc. and managed by Steve
Ginnish and Willie Sark has gained national recognition. Eel
Ground's Forestry Program, of which Straight Arrow Specialized
Lumber Products is a part, won two prestigious conservation management
awards - the 1998 James M. Kitz Award from the Canadian Forestry
Service and the Milton F. Gregg Award from the New Brunswick
Conservation Council - that attest to the community's commitment
to maintaining a work philosophy built upon balance.
||The Eel Ground Community
Development Center is the focal point of Eel Ground's efforts
to provide continuing education programs for the community members.
They provide training in various areas including upgrading, fisheries,
forestry, and computer education. Junior Denny manages the center.
|The Eel Ground Group home
is a 7 bed facility that services adolescents between the ages
of 12 and 18. This group home is the only one in Atlantic Canada
that focuses on young Natives. There are 4 beds for children
in care and 2 young offender beds, the remaining bed is for emergencies.
Many life skills are taught as well as, the young people are
expected to attend education program. The present director is