Canadian Heritage

Historical Vignettes

The Maliseets and the Forest: a Mutual Respect

As he travelled along the coast of the Atlantic in 1700, Dièreville, surgeon and herbologist, writes: “The Savages located around Port Royal are named 'Micquemaques'; the same are along the Saint John River... The 'Maricites' live here as well and are more numerous than the others.”3

Around 1785, date of the arrival of the first settlers in Madawaska, a report notes that the region, presently known as Edmundston, includes about sixty families and that their leader named François Xavier, claims he commands 200 warriors. Apparently, the Maliseets would have come to an agreement with the newly settled Acadians. In exchange for land parcels, the Acadians would have agreed to defend the territory against invaders.4

Therefore, the Acadian settlers arrive in the Madawaska region towards the end of the 18th century. The Aboriginals who are already there teach the colonists the basics of hunting and fishing, and help them settle on fertile land. The colonists also learn to use snowshoes and canoes to travel, wild plants and herbs to heal, with the help of the First Nations.5