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Elsipogtog First Nation (Image credit: Desmond Simon)

Elsipogtog First Nation is located approximately 91 km northwest of Moncton, New Brunswick, along the Richibucto River. Previously known as Big Cove, the name was officially changed in 2003 to reclaim the traditional name of Elsipogtog, meaning “river of fire.” Despite this change, it is still frequently referred to as Big Cove.

The history of Elsipogtog is deeply connected with the Mi’kmaq people, who have inhabited the area for over 5,000 years, as evidenced by archaeological findings along the Richibucto River. This long-standing presence highlights the Mi’kmaq’s deep-rooted connection to the land, predating European settlement in North America.

Elsipogtog is part of one of the seven Mi’kmaq district territories within the Mi’kmaq Grand Council, specifically the Sikniktuk district, meaning “the meeting place” (located on the east coast of present-day New Brunswick). When French settlers, known as Acadians, arrived in the late 18th century, they relied heavily on the Mi’kmaq for survival. The French named the mouth of the Richibucto River “Le Grand Havre” or The Big Harbour. In Mi’kmaq, “harbour” is “pogtog,” and to describe something large, “Gtji” is added. The neighbouring river community of Bouctouche was referred to as “Le Grand Petit Havre” or Pogtogtjiitj. Over the generations, Elsipogtog has had various names, including Magtaoegneigati, Melsignatig, Mesgig Oalnei, and, most recently, Big Cove.

Elsipogtog’s history is also marked by significant challenges related to land rights. In 1802, 51,200 acres were designated for the Richibucto tribe (Elsipogtog). However, by 1900, this was reduced to just 2,222 acres. The loss of 48,978 acres in less than a century underscores the ongoing struggle for land rights and the preservation of heritage for the community. Today, Elsipogtog holds only 4,833.9 acres (19.56 km²), a drastic reduction from the original land allocation.

Elsipogtog Welcomes You – PJILA’SI.
(borrowed from