A compilation of links, quotes, videos and audio against the development planned for the sacred Asinabka / Akikodjiwan / Chaudiere Falls site on the Ottawa River (Kichisibi) on unceded Algonquin territory.
Note: Alongside the ‘Zibi’ condo/commercial development plans, Hydro Ottawa / Energy Ottawa has recently started destruction/construction (photos here & here) on a new hydroelectricity plant at the falls, and this is also being opposed.
New update since this was originally posted:
The main company behind the development is Windmill Development Group Ltd. Their talking points in the media include “It’s clear that the Algonquin Nation as a whole is divided on the issue” (Jeff Westeinde, on CBC Nov 3rd), “We know that 99 per cent of the people were overwhelmingly in favour of the project happening. There’s a strong vocal one per cent [opposing it]” (Rodney Wilts, in Ottawa Business Journal Nov 6th), and “There’s a very small group of people that have a different view of what should happen with these lands, and that’s not at all unexpected” (Jeff Westeinde, Ottawa Citizen video Nov 8th); also, “Weistende challenged [Douglas] Cardinal’s interpretation of history and what constitutes a sacred site” (Ottawa Citizen Nov 3rd).
The only status Algonquin chief supporting the development, Kirby Whiteduck of Pikwakanagan, wrote in the Ottawa Citizen on Aug 14th, “I speak of a small but vocal number of groups and individuals that have come out speaking against the Zibi project, purportedly on behalf of the Algonquin-Anishinabe. I note that most within this movement are not First Nations, let alone Algonquin, yet they are aggressively advocating for the conversion of the Zibi land on Chaudière and Albert Islands to park land, and returned to the stewardship of the Algonquin people. Ironically, the groups and individuals behind this campaign have not consulted the Algonquin-Anishinabe community before taking this position on our behalf. Had they consulted us, we would have asked them to support our decision to partner with Windmill: a decision made by Algonquin Anishinabe for Algonquin Anishinabe within Algonquin Anishinabe territory.”
It is clear that the development-friendly media are uncritically carrying such messages to help marginalize the project’s opposition.
As well, opponents of the development have been targets of ‘lateral violence’. One of those recently affected by such personal attacks – that in this case came from members of Windmill’s four-person Anishinabe advisory group the Memengweshii Council – was Gabrielle Fayant, who wrote poignantly afterwards on Twitter: “We need to stand up to bullies, in a loving way, knowing that they may also be hurting” and also “I can only hope that I was able to bare the burden of these attacks so you can now speak your #truth. You’re not alone. #notmyzibi”
Collection of links / quotes / videos / audio
Call for support from Four Algonquin First Nations & with backgrounder (Oct 2015) from Timiskaming, Eagle Village, Wolf Lake, and Barriere Lake
“Our Algonquin First Nations were not legally or meaningfully consulted or accommodated on this matter as per the directions of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Haida, Delgamuukw or Tsilhqot’in decisions. Moreover, we are calling on all parties to respect the Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, in this case Article 11, among others, clearly applies:
Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites.
… We are calling for those islands and waterfront to be designated an Algonquin Cultural Park and Historic Commemorative Site and 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, including the Chaudiere, Albert and Victoria Islands.
… our four Algonquin First Nations are looking for individuals, groups and organizations to ENDORSE OUR LIST OF DEMANDS in order to build pressure on the federal, provincial, municipal governments and corporations, particularly the Windmill Development Group.“
Long Point First Nation letter to the Ontario Municipal Board (July 2015)
“These islands on the Ottawa River are unceded Anishinabe Territory and do belong to the Anishinabe, the sale of these lands which were expropriated for industry should be returned back to the Anishinabe and not sold to a private developer.”
Algonquin Elder Evelyn Commanda speaking at a press conference along with Douglas Cardinal & John Ralston Saul (Nov 2015)
Collection of blog posts from Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont “South Wind”
“Asinabka (Akikodjiwan), our most sacred site, was stolen from us at a time when no one except the good spirit Mino Manido and Creator cared what the Algonquins had to say about it. We are told over and over again in recent times that a “new relationship of honour and mutual respect is at hand” between us, the First Nations and the settler communities. If Canadians are OK with a sacred site such as Asinabka (Akikodjiwan) being violated in the most despicable manner by the construction of highrise buildings upon it, then their warped definition of ‘reconciliation’ is very different than mine. My mind is not strong enough to even imagine what will be lost to us spiritually if highrises do end up getting built there. I only know with all certainty that our future generations, yours and mine, will suffer the most because of us allowing a place of prayer and ceremony to be raped before our very eyes.”
ALSO: Video interview with Albert Dumont (Feb 2014)
“Canada, Free the Dam Falls!” A compilation of 40 annotated resources (Sept 2015) – by Dr. Lynn Gehl, Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe
“During this time of “reconciliation” Canada is permitting the further destruction of an Algonquin Anishinaabeg sacred site located in what is now called the Ottawa River, more specifically a site that is known to be the place of Creator’s First Pipe and the islands located downstream which historically were a meeting place where many Indigenous Nations converged to ceremonially discuss peace and friendship. This continued destruction is part and parcel of the land claims process where the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) are being forced to extinguish their land and water rights through Canada’s land claims policy. While there are many contentious issues with this desecration, and with the AOO who had to agree to leave private property ownership outside the scope of their land claims, it is most important to understand that the Ontario-Quebec provincial border is a colonial construction and as such the voice of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg in what is now Quebec must not be ignored or dismissed. This sacred place was and remains the jurisdiction of all Algonquin. Indeed corporate colonial Canada is a creep!”
ALSO: video of Lynn Gehl’s public talk (April 2015)
“Reconciliation as Real Negotiations or Termination Table? The Algonquin Land Claim in Eastern Ontario” (Nov 2015) by Heather Majaury, Non-Status Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe:
Point #18 from the letter reads:
“The Chaudiere Falls is a sacred site of the Algonquin people from both sides of the Kichisibi (Ottawa River). All properties within and under the riverway carry special significance as the heart of the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin as a whole and need to be protected as such. Therefore any attempt to build condominiums through a private arrangement at this time is highly suspect regardless of private patents illegitimately acquired over time. If the Government of Canada has over time sold sacred lands for private use then it is the Government of Canada that must rectify this problem with the land holders that are now harmed by its failure over time to respect Algonquin lands and people from molestation. If promises have been made to employ Algonquin companies then those arrangements need to be fulfilled and another site chosen for the actual development.”
“Open Letter to the Memengweshi Council re: their Windmill Development Partnership” (July 2015) from Sab Godin, Anishinaabekwe-Algonkin
“I would expect the Memengweshi Council, as you say, “Inspired by ancestral Algonquin-Anishinabe practices”, has advised Windmill executives of this decision-making heritage? If not, as you claim to represent only yourselves, who has Windmill Development Group, the Cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, and the National Capital Commission (NCC) consulted with and what was the feedback of their consultations? Could you advise the Anishinabeg public of that?
As this sacred site is in unceded territory for which there is no previous deed of sale, how does the Memengweshi Council traditionally support the sale of federally stolen land to private industry?
PLEASE rethink your position on this once-in-a-life time opportunity to do what is morally, ethically, culturally and eternally right. You would be celebrated heroes, if you did.”
“Kitigan Zibi chief says he won’t support Windmill development” (Feb 2015)
Then-chief of Kitigan Zibi, Gilbert Whiteduck, in the Ottawa Citizen
“Gilbert Whiteduck, chief of the Kitigan Zibi reserve located in Maniwaki, said elders did not approve Windmill Development’s use of the word, and proper protocols were not used to seek that approval.
Its use, he said Wednesday, implies the Kitigan Zibi band endorses the massive urban renewal project on Chaudière and Albert islands and the nearby Quebec shoreline, which he said is not the case.
“(It is) once again, by a corporation, the appropriation of our Anishinaabe language.””
“Ottawa City Council approves rezoning of sacred Algonquin site near Parliament” (Oct 2014) with printable edition (2pg pdf) – A news / background article that features the late Elder William Commanda‘s vision for the site, and quotes from then-chief of Kitigan Zibi Gilbert Whiteduck and also Elder Albert Dumont (plus video of Douglas Cardinal).
“Ottawa City Council has approved a rezoning application for private and commercial development on two islands at the Chaudière Falls, about a kilometre upstream from the Parliament buildings on the Ottawa River. The decision, made at a council meeting on Oct. 8 2014, came despite numerous objections from citizens as well as a formal request for further dialogue from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Chief Gilbert W. Whiteduck.
William Commanda’s vision in danger
A broadly supported vision for the site, which includes the falls and the full group of interconnected islands that are directly downstream from them, was championed over the past decades by the late Algonquin hereditary chief and elder Grandfather William Commanda, who was awarded both the key to the City of Ottawa and Officer of the Order of Canada. Commanda passed away in 2011 with the vision still to be fulfilled.”
ALSO: audio interview with Gilbert Whiteduck (Oct 2014) mp3 file
Website of the late Algonquin Elder William Commanda’s vision for the site: www.Asinabka.com
The Legacy Vision of William Commanda for The Sacred Chaudiere Site and The Indigenous Centre at Victoria Island
Elder William Commanda’s vision for the development of a healing and peace building centre on the traditional spiritual meeting grounds of the Anicinabe people, with the lands to be held in trust by Algonquin elders.
Dr. Commanda’s bold four-fold vision calls for
1) Freeing the Chaudière Falls,
2) Creating a City Park and Historic Interpretive Centre
3) Building a Peace Building Meeting Site, and
4) Building an Aboriginal Centre
“Anishnabe Cultural Demo to Protect our Sacred Site”
Friday Nov 13, 11am at Victoria Island
“The Circle, Power and Healing” – Talking circle & feast
Saturday November 21, 10am
advance RSVP required
FREEING CHAUDIÈRE FALLS AND ITS ISLANDS
Care for this water and land. Create an indigenous presence in the capital.
Petition: Honour the Indigenous Stewardship of the Chaudière Falls and its Islands
4239 signatures as of Saturday Nov 21
Petition: Save Asinabka/Chaudiere ancestral sacred site, for a Native Healing Center in Ottawa
534 signatures as of Saturday Nov 21
Poetry: A Draft For Asinabka – by Lital Khaikin
“A narrative mirror of appropriation and erasure reveals the rhetoric of legal and public discourse around Windmill’s corporate ZIBI development on unceded Algonquin land. A vision of a nation sold – rivers dammed, water privatised, the sacred disremembered, the rich honoured. A project of documentary and archival reconstruction, A Draft for Asinabka references experimental poetics, where fragmentation tells a history on the precipice of past and present.”