The word Eskasoni is derived from a Mi'kmaq word "We'kwistoqnik." Literally translated, this word means "where the fir trees are plentiful". Eskasoni was first charted by the Surveyor-General of Cape Breton in 1832. At that time, there were very few families living in the Eskasoni area, compared with the nearly 3000 residents of today. Two years later, in 1834, Eskasoni officially became a reserve, consisting of approximately 2800 acres of land.

During the 1800s there were many Native communities around Cape Breton. Eskasoni was at that time a relatively small, isolated community. According to census reports, in 1871 there were only 125 people living in Eskasoni. By 1891 the population of Eskasoni had declined to 80 residents. With such small population figures from 100 years ago, one might wonder how this community survived at all, let alone became the largest Native community in the Atlantic Provinces.

The primary reason for the extraordinary growth of Eskasoni occurred during the 1940s. In 1942 the Department of Indian Affairs introduced a policy to centralize Native people. In Nova Scotia, all Native people were to be relocated to two locations: Shubenacadie in mainland Nova Scotia, and Eskasoni on Cape Breton Island. The motives for this decision may have been acceptable, but the results were not good. While the population of Eskasoni did grow and the community became larger than it had ever been, there were problems.

Overcrowding, poor housing, substance abuse, and little or no economic opportunities for the residents were just some of the problems encountered in Eskasoni. Although the government promised aid and housing, there simply were not enough resources or houses to support the influx of people. Many Natives, after being relocated, felt a desire to return to their homes. To ensure this did not happen, Indian Agents would often destroy Native homes once they had been relocated to Eskasoni.

During the 1950s, Eskasoni, along with many other Native communities in Nova Scotia, began the process of taking control of their own affairs. A Band Council was established in 1958. This was a major step towards controlling their own community, but Eskasoni would take other steps as well.

Eskasoni also has its own school board and schools. Students may attend school from start to finish in the Eskasoni school system. Eskasoni has also recently opened its own health care clinic, cultural center, and has a thriving fishery. Eskasoni has its own radio station, 94.1 FM, and its own cable television channel, Golivision. Both of these media help to promote local culture and talent, along with keeping the community informed of notices and upcoming events.

Timeline of Selected Events in Mi'kmaq History:

1497 First recorded contact between Europeans and Mi'kmaq made by John Cabot.
1534 Jacques Cartier sailed to North America. Cartier and the Mi'kmaq exchanged European goods for furs. This was the first recorded trade between the Mi'kmaq and Europeans.

Plagues brought ashore by Europeans fishermen and traders began decimating the Mi'kmaq population. The first epidemic was an unknown malady from 64-70. The second was a typhus outbreak in 1586.
1604 French established a settlement in North America at the mouth of the Ste. Croix River.
1605 French moved their settlement to the Annapolis Valley. Port Royale was established.
1607 Tarrateen War began between the Mi'kmaq and the Penobscot over fur trade.
1610 Grand Chief Membertou converted to the Roman Catholic Faith.
1613 British enforced their claim to the Maritimes. Attacked and destroyed a French Mission and Port Royale. Incident served to convince Mi'kmaq of the hostile intentions of the British.
1617 Terrible epidemic struck Mi'kmaq population. Over half of the entire Mi'kmaq people perished. Tarrateen War ended by this epidemic.
1620 Only 4,000 Mi'kmaq remained of a pre-contact population of approximately 20,000.
1676 Abenaki Confederacy formed to fight the British. The Mi'kmaq joined the Confederacy soon after its conception.
1722 English-Indian War began between the British and the Abenaki Confederacy. This was the last major Native war. It lasted until 1725.
1725 Peace Treaty signed between the Mi'kmaq and the British at Boston acknowledged British authority in Mi'kmaq homeland.
1747 Severe small pox epidemic infected the Mi'kmaq People.
1749 Halifax established by Cornwallis.
1752 British and Mi'kmaq signed a Peace Treaty at Halifax re-affirming the Treaty of 1725, guaranteeing the Mi'kmaq way of life and promising the Mi'kmaq a yearly presentation of gifts.
1760 With the surrender of Montreal, the French/British conflict for Canada was all but over.
1761 Mi'kmaq signed a treaty with the British ending hostilities.
1763 Royal Proclamation brought the management of Native affairs under a central authority to prevent abuse.
1763-Modern Times With the French/British battle for control of Canada over, the future of the Mi'kmaq people was uncertain.

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