EquitableEducation.ca

~~~~~~ Learning a better world ~~~~ with Greg Macdougall

PINNED POST / 2013 —
Here’s me explaining what EquitableEducation.ca is about  (Note: the email list is presently offline)

SCROLL DOWN FOR CURRENT CONTENT, OR SEARCH AT TOP-RIGHT

Zibi development at sacred site poses questions of responsibility for all who attend events there

The Bluesfest drive-in promo logo beside a photo of the Zibi sign and island development


Article and multimedia by Greg Macdougall — updated August 13, 2020 — license: CC-BY-SA-ND


These first two August weekends, the RBC Bluesfest Ottawa drive-in concerts – livestreamed online with #CanadaPerforms, a federal program to support artists during the COVID pandemic – are being hosted at a venue that may raise eyebrows to anyone supporting the current protests against racism and monuments to a racist-colonial past.

The ‘Zibi’ development-in-construction is situated at a sacred site – the area at what is known in English as the Chaudière Falls, on the river between Ottawa and Gatineau, an area named Akikodjiwan or Asinabka in the Algonquin language Anishinabemowin.

This development of condominiums and commercial space has proceeded without the proper consent of the Algonquin Nation since being announced in 2013. This is in violation of principles included in rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada, and in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Previously, some local organizations and events have taken action to honour the complexity of this issue:

  • Five years ago, in 2015, organizers of the local Arboretum music festival paused their plans when they learned about the problems with the island venue they’d booked. They did eventually go ahead with it there, but with the addition of two panel discussions of Algonquins speaking on the issues (though only one of the selected speakers was actively opposed to the development).
  • That same year, Ottawa Riverkeeper had their annual fundraising gala at the island site sponsored by the developers – but based on pressure at the time, have not returned since (though they do continue to accept the developers’ sponsorship funding, and a board member is married to one of the developers).
  • Ecology Ottawa chose to stop taking sponsorship money from the development company in 2015, to maintain a clear distance from the developer.

While different grassroots Algonquin, other Indigenous, and settler peoples took positions (and action) against the development earlier, it was in the second half of 2015 that the chiefs of the nine status Algonquin communities based in Quebec – representing the vast majority of the Algonquin Nation – backed formal resolutions against development of the sacred site (read the Assembly of First Nations resolution).

The resolutions asked all levels of government to protect the site by (A) stopping development, and (B) entering into discussions to return the area to Algonquin stewardship. They referred to the pre-existing Asinabka vision for the site that had been led by the late Algonquin Elder and leader William Commanda, that had widespread support before the developers put forward their plans.

However, governments at all levels ignored these requests, and development has proceeded.

Earlier in 2015, the developers did enter into a benefits agreement with one status Algonquin community, Pikwakanagan, and then with the associated “Algonquins of Ontario” (AOO) entity that consists of Pikwakanagan and nine non-status communities, that was formed in the 2000s to engage in the contested Eastern Ontario land claim process.

There is more complexity to the differing positions within the Algonquin Nation than the above description, but that is the 2-minute version that illustrates how:

  • There is not only one position from the Algonquin Nation on this situation.
  • There was strong Algonquin opposition to the development, and an Algonquin-led alternative proposed.
  • There has not been any comprehensive Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC), yet the development has proceeded regardless.

Since then:

  • The NCC (National Capital Commission), representing the federal government, began a series of meetings including the ten status chiefs (Pikwakanagan and the nine opposed) in 2016 – though this process has been publicly characterized by a number of the chiefs, including Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council Grand Chief Verna Polson, as inadequate for consultation purposes.
  • In late 2016, the Kitigan Zibi chief and council filed a site-specific land title claim for the area from Parliament Hill east to Lebreton Flats (coincidentally, the regular home of Bluesfest). This included the islands of Zibi development, but not the Quebec side: it is a legal challenge to the legitimacy of the Ontario land claim.
  • In spring 2017, two of the Quebec-based status communities under new leadership followed Pikwakanagan in entering into benefits agreements with the developers. This was only after construction was already underway in Gatineau, and the government had demonstrated lack of interest in honouring the Algonquin’s Indigenous rights.
  • For almost all of August 2017, the Gatineau Zibi site hosted Cirque de Soleil’s Volta performance, with more attendees than there are members of the Algonquin Nation. Along with contributing $300,000 to Zibi for the ‘Place des Festivals’ venue, Gatineau’s mayor said, “We have always viewed Zibi as a cultural and economic partner for our revitalized downtown – [this] cements this role.” The Algonquin opposition to the development was invisibilized.
  • In fall 2017, A Tribe Called Red withdrew their music from the sound and light show ‘Miwate’ at the falls (though this was not at Zibi, but at the Hydro Ottawa section of Chaudière Island, and ATCR said it was because they didn’t want to be part of a Canada150 event).
  • In late 2018 and early 2019, residents of the first Gatineau Zibi condominium building began to take occupancy. Residents have since also moved into the first building on the islands. The full development is still a number of years from being completed.

Public awareness and understanding of this situation – of the sacred site, the associated Indigenous rights, the development project, and the differing positions of the Algonquin people – is less than adequate.

The developer-friendly media, the company’s own PR, and divide-and-conquer dynamics have served to quiet or confuse and misinform many, and keep the issue from the prominence it deserves.

The two centuries of dispossession of the Algonquin and other Indigenous Nations who used the site – a sacred heart of one of the primary pre-colonial transportation corridors of the continent, with the waterfalls comparable in stature to Niagara Falls before being dammed – by historical figures like Philemon Wright, JR Booth, EB Eddy, and others, has also contributed to a diminished significance in the eyes of many. Otherwise, the Akikodjiwan-Asinabka-Chaudière Falls situation might be recognized by many more people in and outside of the region.

The danger of events like Bluesfest at Zibi, is that they can legitimize to the general population the re-colonization of the site that is happening, by pushing the issue out of consciousness and providing non-qualified endorsement of the development. In this instance it is to a national audience, with the government partnership of the National Arts Centre with #CanadaPerforms.

Acknowledging the full situation is necessary, and it goes beyond land acknowledgements.

The late Wolf Lake Chief Harry St. Denis referred to the problem with land acknowledgements in the face of this situation, in a 2017 presentation to committee at Parliament. He also speaks to the need for all Algonquin to have a say at this site, and problems with the larger land claim. Video 2min20s

Then-Chief of Kitigan Zibi, Gilbert Whiteduck, also spoke of the difference between ceremonial inclusion and material inclusion, in 2014 when the city of Ottawa decided to rezone the islands for development after ignoring Kitigan Zibi’s request to postpone the city council vote in order to have dialogue first. He also discusses Elder William Commanda’s vision for the site and approach to differing views, and more on the history of the area. Audio 3min40s

In this era where historical monuments to racism and colonialism are being contested and overthrown, we need to ask what responsibility non-Algonquin and non-Indigenous people have in proximity and potential participation with this place — with such a large ($1billion+), private-property, metal-glass-and-concrete monument to present-day corporate colonialism and the violation of Indigenous rights?

Footnotes:

For a comphrehensive backgrounder on the site and development, please see this 2019 post:
Sacred Waterfalls Site in Ottawa – Annotated Resource Guide
(It includes references and source links to most of the information in this piece)

The August long weekend – the first Monday in August is a civic holiday in most of Canada – was when Grandfather William Commanda hosted annual gatherings at his place on Bitobi Lake in Kitigan Zibi, that grew to bring thousands together each year as a Circle of All Nations. The first gathering there was in 1969 and the last in 2011, just after he passed away (on August 3rd of that year). It was at the gathering a dozen or so years ago, that the author of this piece first learned about the Asinabka vision for the sacred site, and then since 2014 has been involved with Algonquin and other peoples to protect the site from the development.

(1) The Zibi development is on the Gatineau shoreline as well as on the islands closest to Chaudière Falls. Slightly downstream Victoria Island has been public space, a site of ceremony and gatherings in recent decades, while the other islands were occupied exclusively by industry.

(2) The nine non-status communities that are part of “Algonquins of Ontario” (AOO) have a large proportion of members with very tenuous connection to Algonquin ancestry; there are also other non-status Algonquin communities in Ontario that chose to not be part of AOO. There are nine status Algonquin communities based in Quebec, along with Pikwakanagan and also Wahgoshig in Ontario (Wahgoshig isn’t part of AOO). The Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council (AANTC) represents seven status Algonquin First Nations – Wahgoshig and six of the Quebec-based Algonquin communities – while the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council (/Algonquin Nation Secretariat) represents the other three Quebec-based communities.

(3) Windmill Development Group Ltd. is an Ottawa-based environmentally-focused developer company that created the ‘Zibi’ development. It later brought in a much larger partner, Toronto-based Dream Unlimited Corp, and also created a new spin-off company, Theia Partners, for its own interests in Zibi.

(4) In 2015, researchers Randy Boswell and Jean-Luc Pilon published archaeological studies focused on “Hull Landing” near the Canadian Museum of History, the downstream beginnings of the portage route around the falls, goig back more than 4500 years that “paint a picture of Ottawa-Gatineau as a profoundly important place for aboriginal people” (quote from the Ottawa Citizen newspaper).

.

Two short videos from Bluesfest first weekend:

Land acknowledgements:
The CEO of the National Arts Centre, the two Bluesfest concert co-hosts, and Samantha Tenasco (of Zibi’s Memengweshii council) acknowledging the Algonquin and other Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Haviah Mighty:
The 2019 Polaris Prize winner, performing Saturday August 1st, responds to a question from the audience about what message she might have for other artists about ‘the current situation’.

Two short videos from second weekend of Bluesfest:

Algonquin Nation message:
The second Saturday evening was opened with a recorded video from the Algonquin Nation and AANTC Grand Chief Verna Polson, followed by live jingle dress dance from Josee Bourgeois (member of Zibi’s Memengweshii council), Amanda Fox, Stephanie Sarazin, and Ember Sarazin.

Zaki Ibrahim
and
Amanda Rheaume:
Both of these artists, separately, had specific messages about the sacred site hosting the performances. As Ibrahim said, it’s important to come “to understand” these issues, what they mean.

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Greetings of the solstice,

I’ve put together a summary of some of what I’ve been working on this year*.

If you’re interested to read through it but not right now, please bookmark or otherwise do something as a reminder.

Also please consider sharing this with peoples you know, if you think there’s something here that may interest them — One of the most helpful ways to support this kind of work is to help it reach appropriate (and appreciative) people. I’ve also made this summary available in print, if you want to give it on paper.

*:
(( The Celtic year starts Oct 31 / Nov 1 (Samhain) at the start of winter season; thus, this summary also includes some pieces from the last months of 2018. ))


The summary below is in four parts:
Writings  —  Interviews  —  Recordings  —  Miscellaneous

 

Part A: Written articles

(Each is “long-form”, 2000+ words, with printable PDF versions)

  • Sacred Waterfalls Site in Ottawa – Annotated Resource Guide
    This is based on two walking tours I gave in May as part of Jane’s Walks Ottawa, of the Chaudiere Falls sacred site (Asinabka or Akikodjiwan in the Algonquin language). There have been efforts to protect the site since developers announced condo & commerce plans in 2013, that usurped a previous Algonquin vision for the site.
    IMHO I’ve put together the most accessible comprehensive guide to this issue I know of; it includes many links, videos, and exclusive audio segments, and a tribute to the late chief Harry St. Denis who was a leader in defending the site and passed away in fall of 2018.
    https://equitableeducation.ca/2019/sacred-site-guide
  • The Indigenous Suicide Crisis in Canada is Worse Than We Thought
    In-depth exploration and analysis of a new Statistics Canada report with more detailed and accurate data than previously available.
    https://equitableeducation.ca/2019/indigenous-suicide-new-data
    This is a followup to my 2018 article and multi-media on the Indigenous Suicide Crisis in Canada, featuring the work of authors Roland Chrisjohn and Shaunessy McKay (Dying To Please You: Indigenous Suicide in Contemporary Canada) and of the Indigenous youth organization We Matter’s national Hope Forum event.
    https://equitableeducation.ca/2018/addressing-indigenous-suicide
  • Solidarity with the People and Social Movements of Brazil under Bolsonaro rule
    In-depth analysis of the election of, and the threats posed by, new fascist president Jair Bolsonaro. Includes three half-hour audios. This also provides understanding of fascism in general and how it comes to power.
    https://equitableeducation.ca/2019/solidarity-with-brazil

 

Part B: Interviews

  • Slts’lani (Banchi Hanuse) Nuxalk Radio program manager
    The Nuxalk Nation is located in the area of Bella Coola, BC. They started the radio station in 2014 to help promote their language, nationhood, and stewardship of their homelands – to decolonize. Slts’lani also wrote, directed, and produced a documentary film Cry Rock about preserving the Nuxalkmc language.
    https://equitableeducation.ca/2019/nuxalk-radio-nuxalkmc-language-sltslani
  • Marcelo Sabuc of the CCDA, from Guatemala
    Understanding the situation in Guatemala with resistance to mining, hydroelectric dams, and agri-business, that had resulted in the killings of five members of CCDA, aka Highland Peasants (Small Farmers) Committee, and 21 human rights defenders overall in 2018.
    The CCDA’s coffee is sold as Café Justicia in Canada via solidarity activists, with net proceeds to support the CCDA’s work, as well as in one of the fair trade blends from the Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-operative in the Maritimes.
    https://equitableeducation.ca/2018/guatemala-marcelo-sabuc-ccda

 

Part C: Recordings

  • Joan Kuyek’s Unearthing Justice book launch (70-min)
    Subtitled “How To Protect Your Community From The Mining Industry”, Kuyek’s book is the first such comprehensive resource for Canada. She was founding director of MiningWatch Canada from 1999-2009; this launch was held alongside the organization’s 20th anniversary. Other speakers: Monique Manatch (Indigenous Culture & Media Innovations), Jamie Kneen (MiningWatch), Eriel Tchekwie Deranger (Indigenous Climate Action).
    https://equitableeducation.ca/2019/unearthing-justice-book-launch-joan-kuyek
    Also see: My review of, and video interview with Kuyek for, her previous book Community Organizing: A Holistic Approach
    https://equitableeducation.ca/2011/kuyeks-community-organizing-book
  • December 6th Vigil (Ottawa) for the Montreal Massacre (10-min)
    Volunteers reading the names and short biographies of the 14 women killed in the 1989 Montreal Massacre, as well as of five women killed in the local area in 2018. This was from the 2018 vigil, published this year for the 30th anniversary.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY8iOjR6oTA
  • Alt-Right Masculinities: A Talk by Dale Spencer of CarletonU (21-min)
    Analysis to understand the rise of the alt-right phenomenon, that includes the ChristChurch New Zealand mosque massacres and the Toronto ‘incel’ van attack, as well as the rise of Trump, 4chan, and more. This analysis is not widely-understood, but vitally important.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymC55XCRGeQ
  • Algonquin-led canoe procession on the Rideau Canal (4-min)
    A short compiled video of part of the opening of the inaugural National Arts Centre’s Indigenous Theatre program.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vE1eYJ5BCfQ

 

Part D: Miscellaneous

  • Intervention at the NCC for the Sacred Site
    Video of my question about Algonquin Nation consultation for the sacred Chaudiere Falls site development, at the National Capital Commission board of directors public meeting – and their response.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_51wPS95ZYA
  • Groundwire Radio News contributions
    Find the segments I helped produce for this community radio syndicated half-hour bi-weekly radio magazine, at: http://www.groundwirenews.ca
  • UPDATED – Extending the Conversation: MMIMB
    Added videos of two February walks honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men and Boys, to this article (which was one of the most visited on my site, probably because there’s very little out there about MMIMB and also because of the public interest with the MMIWG inquiry)
    https://equitableeducation.ca/2018/mmimb-update
  • Handout listing Print Items available online
    I created a half-page handout that lists the various PDF files available on my website, that can be printed off and given to someone who might be interested in the offerings.
    The idea behind it was when I was tabling at the Canzine: Festival of Zines and Underground Culture event in Ottawa, having this flyer available to give people as they (often rapidly) walk by allows them to ‘browse’ all the content and maybe come back later – to the table, or afterwards, to the website.
    It is one way to make things more accessible (as is this 2019 summary post) and it has also been of use in other situations.
    PRINT: Single-page PDF version, or double-side two-per-page PDF version

The Nuxalk Nation is located in the area of so-called “British Columbia, Canada”, in and around the town of Bella Coola, a 12 hours drive NW from Vancouver.

Slts’lani (Banchi Hanuse) is the manager of Nuxalk Radio, a small-transmitter CRTC-license-exempt Native radio station launched on the summer solstice 2014, inspired during the 2012 Idle No More resistance movement. Their main aim is to promote the Nuxalkmc* language, along with Nuxalk nationhood and stewardship of Nuxalk homelands, and to provide uplifting programming mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It broadcasts online at nuxalkradio.com, as well as locally at 91.1 FM.

(*Nuxalkmc is the word for the Nuxalk people)

In 2017, Slts’lani was in Ottawa for the Future of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Broadcasting national convergence. This interview was recorded after the convergence, and Slts’lani speaks about Nuxalk Radio, about the national and regional convergences she participated in, and more, including the desire for some sort of network coordination for Native radio broadcasters.

Below the interview, is Slts’lani’s 10-min presentation as part of a panel at the convergence (with both audio and video versions), and also the video trailer for her documentary film Cry Rock (see smayaykila.com) that Slts’lani created about the remaining Nuxalkmc language holders and efforts to keep the language alive.

All videos from the Future of Indigenous Broadcasting national convergence are online at archive.org, and the Cry Rock film can be obtained for viewing or screening via Moving Images Distribution

For more on the Nuxalkmc language, see the Nuxalk page on the First Voices website.

2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Slts’lani quoted the late Neskie Manuel, of Secwepec Radio, in her presentation, to summarize what this is about:

“We are using this radio to decolonize our airspace, our minds and our hearts.”
– Neskie Manuel, Secwepemc Radio

 

INTERVIEW – Slts’lani (Banchi Hanuse) interviewed by Greg Macdougall (12min mp3 file)

 

PRESENTATION – Slts’lani (Banchi Hanuse) at Future of Indigenous Broadcasting (10min mp3 file)

 
TRAILER – Cry Rock, written/directed/produced by Slts’lani (Banchi Hanuse)

Recording of November 15, 2019 Ottawa event hosted by MiningWatch Canada and Octopus Books – “Unearthing Justice: How To Protect Your Community From The Mining Industry” (BTL Books, 2019).

With author Joan Kuyek, founding coordinator 1999-2009 of MiningWatch Canada, in conversation with Jamie Kneen of MiningWatch Canada and then with Erial Tchekwie Deranger (Athabaska Chipewyan First Nation) of Indigenous Climate Action.

Opening from Monique Manatch (Algonquins of Barriere Lake) of Indigenous Culture & Media Innovations, and short welcome to the event space – the Mauril-Bélanger Social Innovation Workshop (Atelier) at Saint Paul University – from its general director Fernanda Gutierrez.

The event was held in conjunction with MiningWatch’s two-day 20th anniversary event, the “Turning Down the Heat: Can We Mine Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis?” international conference.

A short five-minute audio highlights was part of GroundWire Radio News‘ November 18 episode:

 
The full event podcast / audio-recording is here (mp3 file, 1hr:11min):

 

VIDEO (1hr:11min)
[*In search of assistance to help improve captioning/ transcript: please contact if interested]


 

A small selection of the action in Ottawa-Gatineau 27 Sept 2019 in audio, video, and photos: Interview with Carmen and her mother Kim; Dara Wawate-Chabot’s speech on the Algonquin call for a moose moratorium; The Ottawa River Singers drum; and more. By Greg Macdougall, EquitableEducation.ca

At the Climate Strike, I was also distro-ing two handouts from the Sept 5th Amazon Rainforest Fires action at the Brazilian embassy in Ottawa, PDFs of both of them are available at the link.

 

Video Interview: Carmen and her mother Kim

 

Audio : Dara Wawate-Chabot explains the Algonquin call for a moratorium on moose sport-hunting in La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve/ Park, 3 hours north of Ottawa. This picks up mid-way through her speech.

Audio: The Ottawa River Singers’ drumming, with MC introduction

 

Video: Some chanting, some kids rolling around, and some signs

Photos:

CBC Ottawa journalist Idil Mussa interviews two University of Ottawa students near the end of the rally:

Video credit screen, with two vantage photos from reddit.com/r/ottawa:
(Ecology Ottawa announced an estimate of 20,000 participants)

 

An in-depth article I wrote for National Observer, published Sept. 10 for World Suicide Prevention Day:

Canada’s Indigenous suicide crisis is worse that we thought

The article is also published in PDF versions to print for off-line reading, use as handouts, etc:

PDF version preview: Print for handouts, off-line reading, etc

Intro

A new report on Indigenous suicide in Canada has generated the most comprehensive picture of the crisis to date, despite health authorities continuing not to collect data about the problem.

Released at the end of June, the Statistics Canada report titled Suicide among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit (2011-2016) found that, overall, Indigenous people in Canada die by suicide at a rate three times as high as for non-Indigenous Canadians.

While comprehensive, the report acknowledges there are limitations to the findings that likely result in underestimations of the actual rates. The report’s analysis includes a number of socio-economic factors, as well as comparative differences based on age, sex, and location — on or off reserve.

 

I also recently published this short video segment of Dr. Roland Chrisjohn discussing his book, Dying To Please You: Indigenous Suicide in Contemporary Canada (2017, Theytus Books):

I had featured the work and perspectives of Dr. Chrisjohn along with his co-author, Shaunessy McKay (contact info in the video, for any followup interest), linking Indigenous suicide to alienation, oppresson, capitalism, and colonialism, in an article I wrote last year for Richochet:

Indigenous people fighting to live through community and activism

This was re-published at CounterPunch, “Indigenous suicide in Canada.”

There also is again a  PDF version (four 8.5″x11″ pages) for printing,
along with a selection of accompanying multi-media resources with the full hour-long video that the above segment is from, a 1.5-hour audio presentation on their book, and additional content including from the We Matter organization’s Hope Forum national Indigenous youth gathering in early 2018.

After leading two walking tours of the Sacred Site at ‘Chaudière Falls’ in Ottawa, it was suggested – and I thought a good idea – to put the information together online: thus this post. It is longer than originally intended, but that is because it is a complex and detailed situation.

This is estimated as a 23-minute read (also with embedded audios and many reference links) – but there’s a clickable Table of Contents below if you’d like to jump to a particular section / read it in parts.

The walks were part of Jane’s Walk the first weekend in May, “a festival of free neighbourhood walking tours that help put people in touch with their city, the things that happen around them, the built environment, the natural environment, and especially with each other… [It] is a pedestrian-focused event that improves urban literacy by offering insights into local history, planning, design, and civic engagement.” It is named after “urbanist and activist” Jane Jacobs.

The two-fold purpose for this walking tour was:

  • To provide context and details about this Sacred Site, specifically with regards to the past five years since a planned development (‘Zibi’) was announced.
  • To honour the work and life of Harry St. Denis, the former chief of Wolf Lake Algonquin FN, who passed away November 2018 and had been one of the leaders in working to protect the site.

Chi Miigwetch to the many family members of Harry who came to participate in the walk from Wolf Lake FN and also Kipawa FN. Also the Barriere Lake FN community members who traveled a similar distance to participate. Chi Miigwetch also specifically to the guest speakers for the walk: Peter Di Gangi, Norman Matchewan, and Rosanne Van Schie on the Saturday; and Warren Papatie on the Sunday. And also many thanks to the Jane’s Walk Ottawa-Gatineau organizers and marshals who helped with these two walks as well as the more than 60 other walks over the weekend. And thanks to all those who took the time to come and be part of this particular walk!
The primary points to do with the development, points seemingly contentious to some, are that: the area is an historical, traditional Sacred Site; the land is unceded Algonquin territory; there is not Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from the Algonquin Nation as a whole for the developments(*) at the site; the different levels of governments are violating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, as well as Canadian constitutional law, in allowing the development to proceed; and the development has created harmful divisions within the Algonquin Nation and the individual communities.
(*developments plural, both the condo/commercial development and the new hydro facility at the dam)

The sections below are roughly in order as presented at the walk – but with a special section at the bottom featuring Chief Harry St. Denis. They are:

If you think the content here is worthy of sharing, please do!

Send an email or post on social media, but please be sure to add a sentence or two about what you feel is important, for the people who will be wondering whether they should click on the link.

Also if you have any constructive feedback, please leave a comment or email me. I may do a revision in a while; aside from a few paragraphs, there’s been no editorial support on this (>5000 words) work. If there are significant changes made, they’ll be noted here.
*UPDATES
June 17th: Have added Land Registry record upload, all historical records astransferred to microfilm in 1998; also notice of the new Chief Harry St. Denis Scholarship for Indigenous Environmental Students.

All the original content here © Greg Macdougall / EquitableEducation, 2019 (to protect against misuse). No re-use without written permission, except for short quotations that are credited / accompanied with a link to this webpost.

~~~~~~~

INTRODUCTORY NOTES:

The acknowledgement of unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe territory was less a separate formal thing at the start of the walk and more included throughout the walk itself.

For ideas around allyship and solidarity work etc, in the context of a non-Algonquin person leading this walk, please see the book Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism, a collection of essays, edited by Cindy Milstein and published by AK Press. Some of the essays also have versions published online, for example “Ain’t No PC Gonna Fix It Baby” (some highlights here).

What is contained here are mostly items that are documented and accessible online (links to text, images, audio or video). Much of it is not first-hand knowledge. It’s also important to note that a lot of knowledge is held in the communities, by knowledge-keepers, and in the oral tradition – and that is beyond the scope of this resource guide.

Also to note is that if someone(s) else were to choose what is or isn’t relevant for this kind of summary/ resource guide, their collection might highlight different things, and that highlights how relevance is based in part on perspective. However, this is an attempt at a cohesive and comprehensive overview of the main issues to do with the proposed development.

WALKING TOUR ROUTE:

The first few topics here – the names for the site, it’s history, and the Asinabka Vision led by William Commanda – were all presented at the starting point of the walk. This was at the Ottawa end of the Portage Bridge, where it meets Wellington St, at the ‘Gather-Ring‘ art installation.

We then crossed the street to walk along the sidewalk of the Parkway (what Wellington turns into, headed west). The development comes into view at about the location of the Mill Street Pub sign, and from there we walked along the water-side walking path towards the War Museum until reaching the Chaudiere Bridge, aka Booth St on the Ontario side.

The high water levels (see video from Hydro Ottawa and comparison of water amounts with Niagara Falls) had led the federal government to close the metal Union / Dominion bridge that is in the middle of the overall Chaudiere Bridge, but we were able to coordinate with their contracted security on both walks to (after our official 1.5hr tour time) access the public park / viewing platform that are directly adjacent on the south of the dam/waterfalls.


(*To access the park/ platform at the falls: Take a west turn at the traffic lights immediately south of the metal bridge, “4 Booth St” on the map. The platform is a turn after the first buildings; the park is ‘walk as far as you can’ to the fenced bridge and over, almost directly to the side of the dam.)

Walking tour poster, with image of the site as if it were re-naturalized.
Parliament is at top centre; Museum of History/’Hull Landing’ top left before the bridge.

HANDOUTS:

The 3 handouts provided for walk participants are available as PDF files at the Printable Items tab above.

They were

“Asinabka – Sacred Chaudiere Site”
2006 diagram via Circle Of All Nations
Created when GWC awarded Key to the City of Ottawa

NAMES OF THE SACRED SITE:

The Anishinaabemowin / Algonquin names for the Sacred Site:

  • Akikpautik (aka ‘Pipe Bowl Falls’)
  • Asinabka (aka ‘Place of Glare Rock’)
  • Akikodjiwan (see note below)

The Akikpautik name refers specifically to the waterfalls (or, rapids is what pautik translates as). Both Asinabka, the name most know from Grandfather William Commanda’s vision for the site, and Akikodjiwan, the name included in the Algonquin chiefs’ call and resolutions of 2015, are used to refer to the full area including islands and shoreline.

Romola Thumbadoo writes:
“With respect to Algonquin terminology associated with the Chaudiere Site, Asin means rock, and in particular glare rock, bedrock, which has no covering; Asinabka is the Place of Glare Rock, associated with a primary gathering place of the ancient people of the Ottawa River Watershed, at the confluence of three important rivers and waterfalls; Akik means pail/bucket; Pautik means rapids; Akikpautik is then the pail/bucket rapids, different, for example from the Rideau Falls; Odjiwan describes water flowing through rock, and they occur in many places across Algonquin Territory; at the Chaudiere, Akikodjiwan refers to the water that flows through rock at the Akik/Pail (this referenced the two “black holes” that made sound from the womb of the earth, as it were, at the Chaudiere, and that were sealed in colonial times).” – Romola Thumbadoo was the late William Commanda’s personal assistant and biographer, and coordinator of the Circle of All Nations network he founded; she notes that he was a master linguist who spoke two versions of Algonquin, one a very ancient one and one contemporary version, and many dialects of Algonquian (the larger language family) roots, as well as both French and English.

There is also this piece, about the Akikpautik name and Indigenous place names more generally, by Dr. Lynn Gehl, Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe.

Note – Excerpt from the Lexique de la langue algonquine, by J.A. Cuoq 1886, p31:
Akikodjiwan, Saut de la Chaudière, les Chaudières, où l’eau tombe dans des bassins de pierre qui par leur forme arrondie ressemblent à des chaudières. Ce lieu porte aussi le nom de Akikendátc, “là où est la chaudière.” (1)
(1) Pour la même raison, les Iroquois nomment cet endroit “Kanatsio,” V.p.40 du Lexique de la langue iroquoise.
(English translation:)
Akikodjiwan, Rapids of the Boiler, the Boilers, where the water falls in stone basins which by their rounded shape resemble boilers. This place is also called Akikendátc, “there where the boiler is.” (1)
(1) For the same reason, the Iroquois call this place “Kanatsio,” V.p.40 of the Iroquois Language Glossary.

Also to note:
There is the name Asticou, which Samuel de Champlain included in his 1613 journal entry saying that was the Algonquin name for the site, meaning boiler – but a 2005 report by the Ottawa River Heritage Designation Committee (with writing team including William Commanda, Harry St. Denis, and Peter Di Gangi) notes in a footnote on page 22, “The word Asticou must be a misprint in the original text, because the Algonquin word for small cauldrons or boilers (plural) is Akikok. The missionary J.A. Cuoq says that the full name for the Chaudiere Falls is Akikodjiwan […]”

HISTORY:

The recent archaeological research mentioned during the walk (re: burial site at “Hull Landing” which is roughly the area where the Museum of History sits by the river shoreline) includes evidence dating back 5,000 years, and was published by Jean Luc Pilon and Randy Boswell in 2015. Summaries were published by Carleton University’s newsroom and by the Ottawa Citizen, and Boswell wrote a follow-up op-ed. Their published research is here, in order:

Peter Di Gangi spoke at the start of the Saturday walk, about the history of the area. In 2015 he gave a 78-minute talk on the History of the Ottawa River Watershed – he later wrote an article on the same topic, in relation to land title; he also gave an 8-minute talk as part of an event later in 2015 specifically focused on protecting the Sacred Site from development.

Samuel de Champlain visited the area in 1613, with recorded entries in his journal. In 2013 for the 400th anniversary, a colliquiuom entitled “Champlain in the Anishinabe Aki : History and Memory of an Encounter” was held at Carleton University, creating a legacy online digital repository (archived version) hosting “documents, photographs, images, and other materials relating not only to the history of Champlain’s encounter with this region, but also our memories of that encounter.”

The Sacred Site’s use by the lumber industry (Philemon Wright, EB Eddy, JR Booth, Bronson, etc) from the early 1800s until relatively recently, is a major part of the history of the Ottawa Valley and the cities of Ottawa and Hull, and the context of the current circumstances.

For a few months in 1974-75, the Carbide Mill building on Victoria Island served as the “Native People’s Embassy”, an occupation extending from the Native People’s Caravan that had started on the West Coast and arrived in Ottawa at the opening of the fall session of Parliament in September 1974 to a rough reception from police and security forces. Vern Harper’s book “Following the Red Path: the Native People’s Caravan 1974” (summary) is a good source to learn more, and is accessible via the Ottawa Public Library at the ‘Ottawa Room’ of the Main Branch.

Victoria Island was also the location of Chief Theresa Spence’s fast/ hunger strike in the winter of 2012 on the wave of Idle No More, and has been host to countless other Indigenous ceremonies and activities.

*Note: Victoria Island is closed to the public as of last fall, for the next 6-7 years, for environmental remediation clean-up of the historical pollution remaining from the lumber industry.

THE ASINABKA VISION LED BY WILLIAM COMMANDA:

Prelude:

  • 1950 The Gréber Plan, which was the catalyst for the creation of the NCC (National Capital Commission), included re-naturalizing the Sacred Site:
    The restoration of the Chaudiere Islands to their primitive beauty and wildness, is perhaps the theme of greatest importance, from the aesthetic point of view-the theme that will appeal, not only to local citizens, but to all Canadians who take pride in their country and its institutions.” (pg.250)
  • The NCC develops idea of an Aboriginal Centre on Victoria Island starting in the ’70s (reference), and Douglas Cardinal began working with them on the project in the ’80s (reference, p.9).

Grandfather William Commanda, Algonquin spiritual leader, Carrier of Three Sacred Wampum Belts, and founder of Circle of All Nations, in the late 1990s began to advocate a vision for the Sacred Site, working with renowned Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal. Born in 1913, Commanda passed away in 2011, and as he was the person to bring many people together around the vision, this has impacted its progress. Documentation of the Asinabka vision work are collected online at Asinabka.com, maintained by Romola Thumbadoo, personal assistant to Grandfather Commanda and coordinator of the Circle Of All Nations network, the network that is the background from which the Asinabka vision comes.

Key milestones and Circle of All Nations’ Asinabka documentation mentioned at the walk:

Despite the recognition and honouring of his work – along with the Key to the City of Ottawa, Commanda was awarded two honourary PhD degrees, and appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada – and supportive words over many years from different government officials for the vision, the lack of eventual realisation was disappointing. There was a $50,000 grant from Heritage Canada in 2004 to work on plans and designs, and then $85 million earmarked by the NCC in 2005 as initial funding ($35m for the vision and $50m for soil decontamination/remediation), but that wasn’t ever applied and the larger government investment to support reclamation of the privately-occupied lands didn’t come through, even after Domtar wound down operations in 2007. Thumbadoo points to the 2006 sponsorship scandal, which also preceded the change in federal governing party, as a major impact on the government follow-through. Commanda’s approach of non-confrontation and attempting to have voluntary support from all involved didn’t work well with how government functions.

Note that the developers (see next section) on their website, after quoting Grandfather Commanda, state their project “will not conflict with [the Asinabka] vision, and we are entirely supportive of that idea” – in direct contradiction to much of what is linked to above.

THE CURRENT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT:

In the summer of 2013, Windmill Development Group publicly announced their planned ‘environmentally-friendly’ $1bn+ condo/commercial project (‘Les Isles’) for Chaudiere and Albert Islands and the Gatineau shoreline, with a letter of intent to purchase Domtar’s property interests there.

Two public information sessions were then held (the first in December 2013 at the Museum of Civilization/History, with maybe close to 1000 attendees, followed by a second smaller event at the War Museum). Two Algonquin – Kitigan Zibi then-Chief Gilbert Whiteduck as well as then-councilor Claudette Commanda – helped open the first event for Windmill (the two would eventually take opposing positions on the project: Commanda in support , and Whiteduck opposed).

In the summer of 2014, it was announced that a larger development company, DREAM Unlimited Inc, would be partnering with Windmill on the project.

Despite opposition, in October of 2014 the City of Ottawa rezoned the lands on the islands to allow for the development; the City of Gatineau rezoned the shoreline early the next year.

*LISTEN: Windmill’s Rodney Wilts interview, between city hearing on rezoning and full council approval

In February 2015 the developers announced a new name for the project – Zibi, the Algonquin name for river, chosen through a contest without Algonquin approval. The event to announce the name didn’t have any Algonquin guests on hand.

In May 2015, Pikwakanagan First Nation announced they would be working with and supporting the developers; in August, the Algonquins of Ontario (a corporation consisting of Pikwakanagan plus representatives of nine non-status communities, that was formed for land claim negotiations) also signed a letter of intent to support and collaborate with the developers.

Also, a four-woman (three Algonquin, one other non-Algonquin Anishinabe) advisory group was formed, named the Memengweshii Council (also see critical response as well as conflict of interest with NCC). One of the four council members is co-owner of Decontie Construction, an Algonquin company that formed a working relationship with Windmill / Zibi to emply Algonquin workers. A fifth member, also an Algonquin woman, later joined the council. They are paid (in honourariums) by the developers who say they’re considered volunteers.

‘Ground-breaking’ events were held on the Gatineau side in December 2015, and on the islands in spring 2017, an event that also included two of the formerly-opposed Algonquin communities (Long Point and Timiskaming, both of which had changes in leadership) announcing their new support of the development.

In December of 2017, an Order-In-Council by the federal government transferred approximately 1/3 of the island land for the development, crown land unceded by the Algonquin Nation, to fee-simple ownership of the developers. This transfer was carried out between different government departments (PSPC and NCC) and the developer conglomerate in April 2018, followed by the formal completion of transfer of the other lands from Domtar in May as the conditions for the 2013 agreement had been met.

In June of 2018, the City of Ottawa approved a ‘brownfield’ grant of $62 million to the developers, to provide half the amount required to clean up the soil at the site from the pollution left by the previous logging tenants (with subsidies or tax breaks from other levels of government still to be determined; the City of Gatineau is providing $11 million). This was despite the original claims of the developers, who in their earlier propaganda (including to justify their rezoning request) said that they were the only prospective project that would be able to pay the $100+ million required to clean up the site, and of Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, who in 2014 said the city wouldn’t contribute any money to the development.

Soon after, a new company (Theia) was launched to take control of the development, removing Windmill from the project. This was marked by a public relations event on site with special guest speaker Ottawa-Centre Liberal MP / Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

In December of 2018, the first building – on the Gatineau side – was occupied by its first tenants.

In May 2019 the developers opened ‘Zibi House’ – both a sales centre and event hosting location – to the public. It is an 8-story tower built from cargo containers, with top-floor full-glass observatory section, and initial events featuring luxury-chef dinners.

A button by Free The Falls:
The four directions/ four colours circle customized for the Sacred Site and three rivers meeting.

PROTECTING THE SACRED SITE:

The developer’s application to the City of Ottawa for rezoning of the site to allow for the project to be built, was considered at a city committee hearing in October 2014. This was the first focal point of mobilization to protect the site from the development, with over 100 oral or written submissions against the rezoning versus three in favour. Despite this, the committee and then full city council approved the rezoning.

LISTEN: Kitigan Zibi chief Gilbert Whiteduck interviewed pre- and post- the city’s rezoning vote
Click here for his unheeded letter to the City asking for discussions before approval of the rezoning.

The formation of a group to protect the site, named Free The Falls – or more fully, Freeing Chaudière Falls and Its Islands – began soon after the rezoning, with one of its focuses to support an appeal of the city’s decision to the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board).

Six individuals officially appealed the decision to the OMB: Douglas Cardinal, Lindsay Lambert, Richard Jackman, Romola Trebilcock-Thumbadoo, Dan Gagne, and Larry McDermott. There was a 30-day window after the city’s rezoning decision, to begin appealing. The appeal was eventually judged unsuccessful (see Findings section, pg14+) in November 2015 by the OMB without even the opportunity for a full hearing. Four of the five appealed the OMB’s decision to the Ontario Divisional Court (ultimately also unsuccessful, also without opportunity for a full hearing, in March 2016) while Lambert submitted an appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario.
* Extensive documentation of the OMB and Ontario Divisional Court appeals, is accessible online via a sub-page on Asinabka.com

The lawyer representing Douglas Cardinal, Michael Swinwood – who some of the Algonquin chiefs didn’t want involved in this issue, but to no avail – has also made other legal challenges to the development:

  • April 2015, on behalf of Stacy Amikwabi, to protect multiple sacred sites.
    This case was dismissed/withdrawn on the first day in court, July 2015.
  • March 2016, on behalf of a group of grandmothers from Pikwakanagan, challenging the land claim.
    This was first filed in Federal court, later put on hold and refiled in Ontario Superior Court Spring 2017 (see official court filing). This case includes specific section on the Sacred Site. It is against the Pikwakanagan Chief and Council, the Algonquins of Ontario, and the federal government. It is still before the courts.
  • February 2018, on behalf of the grandmothers as well as Albert Dumont of Kitigan Zibi.
    This case specifically challenges the December 2017 Order-In-Council transfer of crown land to the developers; it has been put on hold by request of the applicants since July 2018 and is scheduled to resume November 2019 (see case timeline).

In August 2015, four of the status Algonquin communities (Timiskaming, Wolf Lake, Barriere Lake, and Eagle Village/Kipawa aka Kebaowek) passed resolutions to protect the Sacred Site, and notified the different levels of government. A fifth (Long Point) separately sent the OMB a letter with their position against the sale and development of the islands. In October 2015, the four Algonquin chiefs put out a call for support to protect the Sacred Site from development, both Windmill’s condominiums and commercial project as well as the new Hydro Ottawa facility at the dam. In part, it read “we are actively seeking national support for our Algonquin land use vision as a step towards reconciliation with our legitimate Algonquin First Nations, which we believe is consistent with the vision of the late Kitigan Zibi Elder, William Commanda who advocated for the return of this Algonquin sacred waterfalls area.”

This was followed by more comprehensive resolutions at the regional Assembly of First Nations – Quebec & Labrador (link) and the full AFN Special Chiefs Assembly (link) that were supported by nine of the ten Algonquin chiefs (all but Pikwakanagan). The AFN-QL resolution was passed unanimously, while the AFN resolution was the object of pro-development lobbying and passed with many abstentions and four votes against. The call and the resolutions demanded that the development be stopped unless/until there was Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) from the Algonquin Nation as a whole, and that the federal government enter into discussions to return the site to Algonquin stewardship.

The government has yet to honour these resolutions, as no actions were taken to stop either the hydro development or Windmill’s project, but it did lead to a series of meetings between the NCC and all ten Algonquin communities/chiefs, beginning in 2016 and held a few times a year (Minister Carolyn Bennett publicly said she was willing to meet with them, but didn’t as far as I’m aware). The NCC frame these as consultations but at least some of the chiefs have expressed the experience(*) as lacking in consultation, and more along the lines of information sessions – hear more about this in the audio directly below with then-chief of Kitigan Zibi, Jean-Guy Whiteduck and also in the audios further below in the section featuring Chief Harry St. Denis (*note: the chiefs in the video, Verna Polson and Kirby Whiteduck, speak more about Lebreton Flats, but it is the same process/meetings that started with and are also about the Sacred Site and Zibi).

In December 2016, Kitigan Zibi launched a land title claim for a specific area from Parliament Hill west to Lebreton Flats in Ottawa, including the islands at the Sacred Site (see article from iPolitics, and court filing document). Chief Jean-Guy Whiteduck explained in October 2017 that this court action was more to force the government to meaningfully engage in negotiations and consultations, and that continuing to follow it through in court is a last resort

LISTEN: Jean-Guy Whiteduck excerpts, October 2017 discussing Hydro Ottawa and NCC ‘consultation’ processes, and the site-specific Aboriginal title claim for Parliament to Lebreton and the islands:

Alongside the chiefs’ calls to protect the site through engaging with the government, and the various legal actions, a walk to protect the site entitled ‘It IS Sacred’ was held in June of 2016 led by Algonquin grandmothers and elders. The walk started on Victoria Island and went up Booth Street, then to Wellington St and on to Parliament Hill (see video). It was also that morning that Romeo Saganash spoke in Parliament about protecting the sacred site.

Similar walks have been held annually since (see 2018 video) but with less participants. There is one being planned this year for September 20 (details TBA).

Other actions have been held as well:

The issue of land ownership at the site is still of contention, even apart from Aboriginal title. The overall claims to ownership of the land by Windmill et al, by way of Domtar and the government, is challenged in detail by historian Lindsay Lambert. According to Lambert, lands on the islands were either leased or licensed to private interests (lumber companies and hydro) by the government – but were held as crown (government) land and not fee simple (private) ownership: “The only reference in the Land Registry to anything being in “Fee Simple” dates from 1960. In that year, the City of Ottawa decommissioned most of the public streets, Chaudiere Street, Head Street and Union Square on Chaudiere Island, and transferred them to E.B. Eddy Forest Products” [EB Eddy was later acquired by Domtar]. The pre-computer land registry records for the islands are compiled here (as micro-filmed in 1998).

Lambert has also made available a 1926 government map that seems to display all island lands as held by the government (see embedded image below), and it is unclear if or at what point the government transferred any other ownership (other than the December 2017 Order In Council for the non-Domtar 1/3 of the island lands slotted for development). Lambert also claims that it was and still is illegal for the government to do so, based on a pre-confederation Order-In-Council still in effect that designates the land at the falls only for public purposes (which both logging and hydro were considered to be) – and that the designation can only be changed by an act of Parliament.

* Lambert’s detailed explanation is included in this letter to an NCC employee in May 2018, as well as this letter to the Governor General in January 2019.

A 1926 government map detailing the islands lands held by the federal government.
See PDF for full version.

ALGONQUIN LAND CLAIM FOR EASTERN ONTARIO:

Since the early 1990s the federal and provincial governments have been negotiating with the Pikwakanagan First Nation about a large area of land in Eastern Ontario that includes Ottawa. In the 2000s, nine non-status communities were brought into the negotiations, forming the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) corporation with Pikwakanagan. AOO decision-making is based on 16 votes: nine votes are from the single ‘Algonquin Negotiation Representative’ (ANR) of each of the nine non-status communities, and the other seven votes are from the Pikwakanagan chief and six councillors.

A draft proposed agreement-in-principal (AIP) was gradually developed with main points of the Algonquins keeping 1.3% of the land, and approximately $300 million. In late winter 2016, a non-binding referendum was held on the AIP: it was overall 88% in favour (including 96% of non-status members, but with 56% opposed amongst Pikwakanagan members). Despite the will of the Pikwakanagan voters, Pikwakanagan and AOO leadership held a signing ceremony with the governments in the fall of 2016. It is still a tentative agreement so there are still years of negotiation process to come.

The two pieces included in the handout on the land claim, for background, are:

For more background on particular issues, see:

The majority vote of Pikwakanagan members in the referendum against the AIP is part of the basis of the court case by the Pikwakanagan grandmothers against the Chief and Council and federal government.

This land claim process is a major factor leading to Pikwakanagan and the AOO, already negotiating to cede land title and rights that includes the Sacred Site, being favourable to supporting the development.

It can be confusing in the media when they mention ‘ten Algonquin communities’ referring to the status Algonquin community of Pikwakanagan with the nine non-status communities in Ontario that are not recognized in the Indian Act, versus the ten Algonquin communities (Pikwakanagan and the nine based in Quebec – read Appendix F here) that are the federally-recognized Algonquin Nation.
* Note: “Three other [status] First Nations in Ontario [not part of the land claim] are at least partly of Algonquin descent, connected by kinship: Temagami, Wahgoshig, and Matachewan.” (source)

HYDRO DAM AND PUBLIC PARK:

The original ring dam at the waterfalls was built between 1908-1910.

As the current planned condominium/commerce development was in the works, Hydro Ottawa (with their subsidiary, Energy Ottawa) was working on a new electrical generation facility at the dam.

This additional construction was also opposed by the nine Algonquin chiefs in the AFN-QL and AFN resolutions, but their opposition was much less publicized, and no accommodation or halt was made. It was again the Algonquins of Ontario, including Pikwakanagan, that worked with Hydro Ottawa to provide consent and support for the project (including in the media).

The construction on the upgraded dam involved a lot of destruction of the natural stone at the site .

The hydro company has worked closely with the developers, including for the parts of the island not planned for development to become public parks and access to the falls area.

Douglas Cardinal had worked with Hydro Ottawa consulting with the Algonquins of Ontario to create designs for the park (see pages 23+), but later withdrew his work.

The park adjacent to the falls opened to the public in October 2017 as part of the (controversial) Miwate sound and light exhibit for Canada 150, and then in spring 2018 as a generally-accessible venue – and with tours of the hydro facility available on special occasions or when booked as an organizational tour.

ADVOCACY OF CHIEF HARRY ST. DENIS, AND TRIBUTE:

Wolf Lake Chief Harry St. Denis passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in November 2018.

He had been Chief of Wolf Lake for three decades. See a collection of tributes, and some media pieces, compiled at this post. Also the 76-min new documentary film in tribute, based on an interview recorded with Chief St. Denis, embedded at bottom below.

He had brought together the nine ‘Quebec-based’ Algonquin chiefs to work to protect the site from the developments, initiating the resolutions at the November 2015 AFN-QL (having first ensured it was supported by all nine) and at the December 2015 AFN resolution (which was amended to include in the wording, the name of each community).

In the following two short audios, he describes some aspects of the series of meetings the NCC began to host on a quarterly or so basis (he is also quoted by CBC about these meetings when they were first starting). The cooperation between chiefs ensured the government started to take some responsibility for organizing discussions and also ensured the government included all ten status Algonquin communities at the table – these meetings were likely part of what brought about the first united gathering of the Algonquin Nation in three decades, that he didn’t live to see, this past February (see article in French; bilingual press release). In these audios he also discusses the lack of actual consultation or accommodation in the process, and the second audio includes how the scale of information provided and the detailed contextual work needed for such a process was beyond the capacities of the small Algonquin communities.

LISTEN: These two segments with St. Denis (files: p1 + p2) were excerpted specifically to broadcast by megaphone at the walking tour, from an until-now unpublished Spring 2018 phone interview.


You can read an opinion piece he authored in the Ottawa Citizen in August 2016 about the Sacred Site.

LISTEN: Chief St. Denis was also interviewed in February 2016 on CKCU 93.1FM campus/community radio, by host Chris White alongside Free The Falls group member Peter Stockdale (17-min audio file):

A third audio, the audio from the short video below, was also included as part of the walk.
The video is a Twitter-length (2m20s) selection of highlights from audio of his testimony re: land claims policy at a Parliamentary INAN committee hearing, with accompanying visuals added to create a video format. He does discuss the Sacred Site as well as/ in relation to overall land claims.
(His full testimony, 29-minutes in audio and also text transcription, is included at this link)

* On May 31, the day after this guide was published online, the Chief Harry St. Denis Scholarship for Indigenous Environmental Students was announced, established by Margaret Atwood (neighbour of the St. Denis family on Lake Kipawa) and Indspire. See the press release, and also the official award webpage where contributions can be made.
FILM TRUBUTE: This 76-minute documentary tribute video, “Chez nous à Wolf Lake,” published December 2018, is from a wide-ranging interview with Chief Harry St. Denis conducted by Émilie Jacques for La Télévision Communautaire du Témiscamingue (www.temis.tv). It is almost all in English.

“Émilie discovers the community of Wolf Lake in the company of their late chief, Harry St-Denis. Come and meet a chief who was dedicated to his community through an interview held at the Algonquin Canoe Company, in which you will learn more about the history of this unique community on the territory.”