Whitworth Reserve

The Whitworth Amerindian Reserve is located on the territory of the township of Whitworth on the south shore of the St Lawrence River, 30 kilometres south of Riviere-du-Loup.

It covers an area of 1, 7 square kilometres. The Viger band lives on this territory. The name of the Reserve honours Matthew Withworth of Aylmer, governor of the Lower Canada in 1831-1835. Historically, the Malecite nation lived in New Brunswick west from the Saint-John River, as well as in the Lower St. Lawrence region.

Malecite were members of the Wabanaki Confederation. This association also included the Maine Abenakis, Micmacs, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy. Malecites were half-nomads, they lived from hunting and fishing, but they also grew corn. In 1828, some thirty families established a settlement in Viger on 3,000 acres of land divided into 100-acre lots close to Riviere Verte in the Gaspe region.

According to the colonisation policy in force at this time, the Malecites were encouraged to settle there by the government, who will provide seeds and provisions. The methods proved wrong and, as the Malecites did not settle there.

Thus the Canadian government give up to the pressure exerted by colonists interested in those fertile lands, and Viger was abandoned in 1869. Nevertheless, in 1876, the federal government created the Whitworth reserve. Houses were built there for the Malecites. However, the Malecites resisted a sedentary way of life for a long time.

In 1987, some 130  Malecites gathered in Riviere-du-Loup to elect a band council. At present, the band has about 500 members.

The band took the name of First nation malecite of Viger in 1990. Faithful to their traditional way of life, the Malecites still refuse to be confined to a reserve, so we can’t say that this number corresponds to the number of permanent residents of the reserve.

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