Brunswick House First Nation is located 10 kilometers east of the town of Chapleau, Ontario on Highway 101, about 157 kilometres (97.6 mi) northeast of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.
Official Name: Brunswick House First Nation
Band No. 228
Traditional Name: Wapiscogamy House.
Alternate Names: New Brunswick House Band of Ojibway
Aboriginal Status: Status Band
Tribal Affiliation: Ojibway-Cree
Governance: Brunswick House First Nation elects their leaders through the Act Electoral System, consisting of a Chief and six Councillors. The chief is a member of Wabun Tribal Council, a Regional Chiefs’ Council.
Political Organizations: Nishnabe-Aski Nation
Reserve No. 76A
Name: Mountbatten 76A Indian Reserve
Size: 9,054.2 hectares (22,373.4 acres)
Established: In 1947, the federal government purchased a tract of land in Mountbatten Township from the Ontario government and established the Mountbatten 76A Indian Reserve.
Reserve No. 76B
Name: Duck Lake 76B Indian Reserve
Size: 259.8 hectares (642.0 acres)
Established: The Band moved to its present reserve at Duck Lake 76B Indian Reserve after 642 acres (259.8 ha) of the Mountbatten 76A were exchanged in 1973 for an equivalent area of land closer to Chapleau, Ontario.
Treaties: Treaty #9 – The James Bay Treaty
Population: About 763 members with approximately 121 living on-reserve and 642 off-reserve.
Wapiscogamy House was originally from Missinaibi Lake and hunted and trapped as far south as the Great Lakes and north up to the Moosonee area for 7,000 years.
Brunswick House First Nation was established as a community through the Treaty #9 document which was signed by government representatives and the first recognised First Nation leaders in 1905 and 1906.
In late July 1906, treaty commissioners met with the First Nation people who lived in the area of the Hudson’s Bay Company post called New Brunswick House on the northern end of Missinaibi Lake.
In 1925, the Chapleau Game Preserve was established as a 7,000 square kilometer area for the protection of wildlife. The new game preserve surrounded Missinaibi Lake where the community of New Brunswick House had been allocated 17,280 acres (6,993.0 ha) of land.
When the preserve was created hunters and trappers including First Nation people who followed a traditional lifestyle were no longer allowed in the area. This meant the relocation of the people of New Brunswick House to a new land base outside the game preserve.
New railways coming through their lands and the forming of the Chapleau Crown Game Preserve by the Provincial government severely disrupted their traditional way of life.
For a 22 year period after the relocation, the Brunswick House band had no land base.
The people roamed from town to town along the railways and many of them suffered from hunger or succumbed to sickness as a result of being unable to provide for themselves as they once did.
Adding to these problems, the displacement of families due to residential schools and the Sixties Scoop (refers to the practice of taking or “scooping up” children of Aboriginal peoples in Canada from their families for placement in foster homes or adoption beginning in the 1960s and continuing until the late 1980s) had devastating effects. Many lost their identity and culture and became scattered and unkown to each other.
Brunswick House community lands were changed three times. The first move took place near Kapuskasing which provided about 50 acres of land.
When a local pulp mill operation declared it had the rights to the land area, they were moved again with the promise of finding another land base. The second move was agreed to take place on to what was known then as Loon Lake near the town of Chapleau and is now referred to as Borden Lake.
This move was also contested and community lands were moved again. In 1947, a 36 square mile land base was finally provided for Brunswick House First Nation at Mount Batten township.
This land base was mostly swamp land and was the traditional trapping ground of then leader of Brunswick House FN, Chief Joe Davis.
In 1970, a one square mile area of the land base was traded for an equal portion 10 kilometers east of the town of Chapleau on Highway 101. The final move to the community’s present location was made due to health reasons and to gain better access for members to essential health and education services.
Historically, members were mainly trappers and fur-traders. Today they are involved in pursuing opportunities in mining, renewal energy, and are starting a blueberry farm.
People of Note:
Chief Joe Davis
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