Elsipogtog First Nation

Coordinates: 46°35′48″N 64°58′50″W / 46.59667°N 64.98056°W / 46.59667; -64.98056
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Elsipogtog First Nation
Elsipogtog Health Center
Elsipogtog Health Center
Elsipogtog First Nation is located in New Brunswick
Elsipogtog First Nation
Elsipogtog First Nation
Location of Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick
Coordinates: 46°35′48″N 64°58′50″W / 46.59667°N 64.98056°W / 46.59667; -64.98056
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)
Area code506 / 428
NTS Map21I10 Richibucto

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 Five Rivers, 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 2023, the registered Elsipogtog population is 3,574, with 2,736 living on reservations and 798 living off reservations.[2]


"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[edit]

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[edit]

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]

Shale gas project[edit]

In May 2013, members of Elsipogtog First Nation demonstrated their concern over a proposed shale gas project and 2D seismic imaging done near their reserve by SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of Southwestern Energy. Workers were on site to conduct seismic exploration using sound wave technology to create images of underground shale beds that might contain natural gas. Many residents used social media to voice their concerns about the planned fracking. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall of 2013, protesters prevented SWN workers from accessing their seismic equipment, blocking Routes 11, 116, and 134.[citation needed] On July 24, a video was recorded of a First Nations protester strapping herself to bundles of geophones and other equipment used by SWN for seismic testing at the site.[6] She slowed down the workers' access to the equipment until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) removed her later that day.[7] On September 29, SWN's trucks were blocked by a mystery van and protesters gathered in support.[citation needed] Shortly afterward, a sacred fire[clarification needed] was lit and maintained by a 12-year-old boy who watched over the prayers of the people.[citation needed] On October 1, a video was recorded of Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren James Sock delivering an eviction notice to SWN while dozens of protesters continued to block Route 134 in Rexton to prevent the company from moving their exploration equipment.[8]

On October 7, a video was recorded of Sock and New Brunswick premier David Alward addressing the media regarding the blockage of the shale gas research and the injunction regarding the blockade.[9]

On October 17, the RCMP moved in to enforce a court injunction against the road blockade. The situation "exploded in violence, sending dozens of people to jail and reducing five police cars to smouldering ruins".[10] The incident was made famous in a now-iconic[citation needed] photograph of activist Amanda Polchies kneeling before the police and holding an eagle feather. The RCMP said that "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".[11] The First Nation's lawyer, T.J. Burke, confirmed that Sock was among those arrested, though he and others were released within hours following their arrests.[11] On October 18, SWN applied for an indefinite injunction against a list of people including John and Jane Doe. Judge Rideout denied this injunction.[citation needed] On November 29, another shale-gas protest resulted in the arrest of five men.[12] Another report on the same day stated that fifteen protesters were jailed for throwing rocks at vehicles.[13] Numerous arrests continued to occur into 2014.[citation needed]

Present day[edit]

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.[14] There is a 7 day/week supermarket and a Pharmasave-brand pharmacy, both of which are 100-percent 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.

Kraft Hockeyville[edit]

After a fire in September 2020 destroyed the community's arena, the Chief Young Eagle, Elsipogtog entered Kraft Hockeyville, a Canada-wide competition held by Kraft Heinz Canada in collaboration with the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA). The competition, which started in 2006, gives small communities in Canada a chance to win $250,000 in arena upgrades, $10,000 worth of youth hockey equipment, and the opportunity to host an NHL preseason game. Runners-up receive $25,000 in arena upgrades and $10,000 for youth hockey equipment.[15]

On March 20, 2021, the NHL and NHLPA named four communities as finalists in the competition for 2021: Elsipogtog; Lumsden, Saskatchewan; Saint Adolphe, Manitoba; and Bobcaygeon, Ontario.[16] Following two days of online voting, on April 10, 2021, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Elsipogtog as the winner of the competition live on Hockey Night in Canada. The win came a week after the tragic loss of two community members in a fishing accident, community leader Craig 'Jumbo' Sock and Seth Monahan.[15]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no NHL preseason was held in 2021, so Elsipogtog's celebrations were delayed until October 2022 after restrictions had been lifted. Three days of activities were held. On the first day, an alumni game was held featuring former NHL players, including Elsipogtog native Everett Sanipass, as well as three female indigenous hockey players who have played for the Canadian and US national teams. Activities on the second day included autograph signings from various players, including New York Islanders legend Bryan Trottier, and a visit from the Stanley Cup. Mascots for the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens were also in attendance. Finally, on the third day, the preseason game between the Senators and Canadiens was held at the J.K. Irving Centre in Bouctouche. Goaltender Jake Allen, a native of Fredericton, New Brunswick, was in the lineup for the Canadiens.[17][18] The Senators defeated the Canadiens 3–2 in overtime.[19]


Elsipogtog First Nation is composed of two parts as shown:

Community Area Location Population Date established
Richibucto 15 1,667.3 hectares (4,120 acres) 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) southwest of Five Rivers 1,937 (2016)[20] September 9, 1805
Soegao 35 104.732 hectares (258.80 acres) 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) west of Moncton 0[citation needed] May 29, 2008


Richibucto 15[edit]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Elsipogtog First Nation (Big Cove)". Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Archived from the original on June 16, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  2. ^ Branch, Government of Canada; Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; Communications (November 14, 2008). "First Nation Profiles". Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. Government of Canada.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b 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 May 8, 2016. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  5. ^ "Positions". Elsipogtog Health & Wellness Centre. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  6. ^ "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
  7. ^ "Elsipogtog: An offering and a promise July 24, 2013".Chris Sabas. Youtube.com. July 24, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQmWYnm-QQk
  8. ^ "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
  9. ^ "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
  10. ^ Galloway, Gloria; Taber, Jane (October 18, 2013). "N.B. protesters plan more protests after violent clash with RCMP over shale-gas project". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  11. ^ a b "RCMP, protesters withdraw after shale gas clash in Rexton". CBC News. October 17, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  12. ^ "Anti-shale gas protest closes N.B. highway for hours". CBC News. November 29, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  13. ^ "N.B. shale gas protest turns violent as rocks hurled at police vehicles". National Post. November 29, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  14. ^ "Richibucto detachment". Royal Canadian Mounted Police. July 14, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Kraft Hockeyville Canada winner announced as Elsipogtog First Nation". NHL.com. April 11, 2021.
  16. ^ "Kraft Hockeyville Canada announces Top 4 communities". NHL.com. March 21, 2021.
  17. ^ "Hockeyville Hub: Day 4".
  18. ^ "Elsipogtog celebrates new rink, Hockeyville title". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. October 7, 2022. Archived from the original on October 21, 2022. Retrieved October 13, 2022.
  19. ^ Lane, Jon (October 9, 2022). "Elsipogtog First Nation deeply touched by Hockeyville experience". NHL.com.
  20. ^ a b c d "Census Profile, 2016 Census Richibucto 15, Indian reserve [Census subdivision], New Brunswick". Statistics Canada. February 8, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  21. ^ "Census 2011". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  22. ^ Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006 census