Wolastoqiyik (Malecite)

Population and territory

Some 780 Wolastoqiyik live in Québec. They are not grouped in communities, but are scattered throughout the province. However, the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation does have a reserve, called Kataskomiq, which is located in the township of Whitworth, near Rivière-du-Loup, and a small lot in Cacouna. 


Members of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation living in Québec speak French, and many also know English. The Wolastoqey language is still spoken by some in Maine and New Brunswick.


Until the 16th century, members of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation lived along the Saint John River in New Brunswick. They primarily lived off hunting and fishing, but they also grew corn. The Wolastoqey Nation is culturally similar to the Abenaki Nation and the Mi’kmaq Nation, which are all part of the Wabanaki Confederacy.

In 1840, there were more than 200 members of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation living on the banks of Rivière Mitis, and likely as many living elsewhere between Lévis and Rimouski, particularly on the Viger reserve. Created in 1827, the reserve was one of the first land concessions granted to an Indigenous nation in Québec. However, its land rights were disputed by the surrounding population, who asked the Canadian government to take back the land and put it up for sale. In 1869, after a few months of negotiations, the members of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation agreed to surrender their land under certain conditions, and the lots were sold at auction the following year.

In the late 19th century, the Canadian government granted the nation a territory in the township of Whitworth. The members of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk Nation tried in vain to cultivate this land, which was unsuitable for agriculture, before abandoning it and settling near Cacouna. After the federal government purchased a small lot for them in 1891, they remained there for several generations. However, no more than 10 people have ever lived there, and no one from the nation remains there today. It was not until 1987 that about 100 members of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation met in Rivière-du-Loup to elect a nation chief and council. The council then submitted an application for official recognition to the Québec government. In 1989, the National Assembly of Québec officially recognized the Malecite Nation as the 11th Indigenous nation of Québec. In 1998, the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation had a building constructed on their lot in Cacouna to house their band council offices.


Today, members of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation operate fishing boats and are trying to diversify their economy, in particular by developing regional partnerships.

Last update: February 23, 2023


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