Published on January 20, 2013 by Carol
The Malecites lived in New Brunswick; their territory extended west from the Saint-John River. They were members of the Wabanaki Confederation, wich also included the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maine Abenakis and Micmacs.
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Half-nomads, they lived from hunting and fishing, but they also grew corn. The main Malecite community, Médotec, was along the banks of the Saint-John River. In 1694, a plague killed some 120 Micmacs, and the rest of the community was forced to flee the village temporarily.
The Malecites proved to be faithful allies to the French in the colonization wars; they were considered a key element in the French defence. In 1728, however, the Malecites ratified the peace treaty concluded in Boston with the English. Under this treaty, the Indians of New England and Nova Scotia recognized British sovereignty over Nova Scotia. Malecite resentment of the English continued, however, until the surrender of Quebec City in 1763.
In 1828, some thirty families established a settlement in Viger ( a concession of 3,000 acres of land divided into 100-acre lots) close to Rivière Verte in the Gaspé region ; their actual name comes from there: the Malécites of Viger.
According to the sedentarisation policy in force at this time, the Malecites were encouraged to settle there by the government, who will give them seeds and provisions. Those methods proved wrong and, as the Malecites did not settle there, the Canadian government give up to the pressure exerted by colonists interested in those fertile lands, and Viger is retroceded in 1869.
In 1876, the federal government created the Whitworth reserve and in 1891 the Cacouna reserve, and houses are built there for the Malecites. However, the Malecites resisted a sedentary way of life for a long time. The presence of this nation in Quebec was almost forgotten by the population because the members were so spread out across the province.
The band never ceased to exist in the federal government’s registers. In 1975, some hundred individuals were deemed to be part of this nation. After Bill C-31 (modifying the Indian Act ) was passed in 1985, many Malecites recovered their registered Indian status. In 1987, some 130 of them gathered in Rivière-du-Loup to elect a band council. Two years later, the Government of Quebec officially recognized the Malecite First Nation. At present, the band has 537 members.
Faithful to their traditionnal way of life, the Malecites still refuse to be confined to a reserve ; no one permanently lives on the federal reserves of Whitworth or Cacouna.