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, "All right."
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    1779-1805 Gilbert Patles 1948-1951
King Andrew Julian   1807-1836 Dan Paul      1951-1955
Barnaby Julian   1836-1871 Moses Paul   1955-1956
Francis Julian   Dan Paul 1956-1958
T.F Julian   Moses Paul  1958-1964
Nicholas Julian      1871-1885 William Barnaby    1964-1966
John Julian   1885-1888 Howard McKay     1966-1968
Thomas Barnaby 1888-1894 Joe Larry 1968-1969
Peter N. Julian 1894-1903 Wilson Simonson 1969-1969
Pete Ginnish       1903-1906 Michael Ginnish 1969-1972
Peter N. Julian  1906-1909 Michael Martin 1972-1978
Peter Tenass   1910-1921 Alex Wilfred Ward  1978-1980
Daniel Paul 1922-1926 Roger Augustine 1980-1996
Peter J. McKay     1932-1935 George Ginnish 1996 to present
Dan Paul   1935-1947    

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 Affairs, 1898.

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 Kenny Paul.