The Government of Canada commemorates the national historic significance of Louis Thomas and the settlement of Viger by the Maliseet

News Release

August 12, 2017                            Cacouna, Quebec                            Parks Canada Agency

 

The national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas represent the best of what Canada has to offer and reflect our identity, particularly the history, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous peoples. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the Government of Canada invites Canadians to experience nature and learn more about our history. 

Today, Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada have recognized the national historic significance of Louis Thomas and the settlement of Viger by the Maliseet. Two plaques commemorating this person and historic event were unveiled in Cacouna, on the Maliseet of Viger First Nation territory. 

The Government of Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to the significant people, places, and events that contributed to our country’s diverse heritage. Louis Thomas, a 19th century Maliseet chief, was instrumental in settling his people in the Lower St. Lawrence region. In 1826, no longer able to provide food for his people in the St. John River area of New Brunswick, he and his brother Joseph submitted a request to the Governor General of Lower Canada, on behalf of themselves and 96 other individuals, for land in Viger Township. The lands were granted to them. 

In the spring of 1826, the Maliseet settled in Viger Township and began clearing the land. However, starting at the end of the 1850s, the Maliseet were put under great pressure to agree to relinquish to the Crown their land. Several times, Louis Thomas expressed his attachment to the Viger Township and his determination to assert the Maliseet’s rights. His requests demonstrated an important comprehension of the British and Canadian political issues and showed an authentic diplomatic approach. 

After 1860, following a serious fire and in reaction to pressure from the local population, the Maliseet virtually abandoned the concession. They eventually signed the relinquishment deed in 1869 and the land was sold. In the following decades, the Maliseet were given land in Whitworth and then in Cacouna, which today is the administrative centre of the Maliseet First Nation. 

Parks Canada made the commitment to establish a network of national heritage sites that celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples, their history, and cultures, as well as the special relationship Indigenous peoples have with the land. As part of the centennial of national historic sites in 2017, Parks Canada invites Canadians to discover and be inspired by the stories of the people, places, and events that shaped the Canada of today. 

The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation and nation-to-nation relationships with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership. The reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is one of the main themes of Canada 150.


Quotes

“The Government of Canada is pleased to commemorate the national historic significance of Louis Thomas and the settlement of Viger by the Maliseet. Louis Thomas not only influenced the lives of the Maliseet of whom he was Grand Chief, but also made an impression on a good number of his contemporaries, both by his personality and advanced age and by his continued efforts to defend his people with dignity. The 150th anniversary of Confederation marks an important milestone for Canada and I encourage all Canadians to take this opportunity to learn more about this great man and this historic event of the settlement of Viger by the Maliseet.” 

Rémi Massé,
MP for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia

Quick Facts

  • Grand Chief from 1841, Louis Thomas was about 75 years old; he expressed, through numerous petitions, his attachment to Viger Township and his determination to protect the rights of the Maliseet.

  • First land grant in Lower Canada under the government’s nascent Indigenous settlement policy, the settlement of Viger by the Maliseet was a precursor to the Indian reserves that would be created in this province in 1853.

  • The Government is very pleased to offer free admission for all visitors to national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada in 2017 to celebrate Canada 150.

  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people, and events that have marked Canada’s history.

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Contacts

Laurence Pagé
Partnering, Engagement and Communications Officer
Saguenay–Saint-Laurent Field Unit
Parks Canada
Tel.: 418-235-4703, ext. 246
Cell: 418-514-8479
Laurence.page@pc.gc.ca

 

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency
855-862-1812
pc.media@pc.gc.ca


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