The Oblates administered over a third of all federal Indian Residential Schools, including ones where unmarked graves were located earlier this year and ones where local Algonquin children were taken. Their historic headquarters is being refurbished for a new community centre and elementary school, amidst a larger residential redevelopment of the lands, situated by the Rideau River.
This is an opportunity to include commemorative aspects in the building and on the grounds, related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call To Action #79. Although this isn’t a residential school site, it is an important site related to residential schools.
Read more about this story in an article/editorial I wrote:
- An opportunity for Truth and Reconciliation in Old Ottawa East,
web version from the October 2021 issue of The Mainstreeter, the community newspaper for Old Ottawa East;
- Or in PDF format:
A 1-page printable version of the same article, with a few slight amendments / updates.
As an addition to the article itself, I’m posting some relevant images and links below, that weren’t able to be included with the article. They provide additional, valuable context and visuals – but they don’t all make sense without having read the above piece first.
- APRIL 2022:
The City of Ottawa is hosting the next phase of their public input / consultation on the new Old Ottawa East community centre and (mini) Forecourt Park. There are three Town Hall Zoom sessions – Tues (1-3pm), Wed (6:30-8:30pm), and Thurs (6:30-8:30pm) – the last week of April. Register + details at this link. This is opportunity to push for specific commemoration installation(s) at the site.
There is background information below on the Oblates site and the new development, on the commemoration of residential schools, and on how to get involved in advocating for some suitable commemorations at this site.
Oblates site / new Greystone Village development:
- Community grassroots initiative to help coordinate and support the creation, facilitation, and advocacy for Indigenous-led visions of commemoration at the Oblates site – Contact via: algonquinakimedia [@] riseup.net
- City of Ottawa Public engagement page on new community centre and ‘Forecourt’ public park
/ Statement of Cultural Heritage Value – for Deschatelets Building
/ September 2020 report from local city councilor Shawn Menard
- Current Oblates site plaque (installed by City of Ottawa / Sustainable Living Ottawa East)
- Full site plan map of development – High-definition PDF (on pg.2) / Smaller-file-size image
/ Riverside corridor map
/ Short description of Forecourt Park
/ Greystone Village website from the developers (Regional Group, and, EQ Homes)
- Update: The future ownership and maintenance of the 30m-wide river corridor is uncertain:
(Dec 2021) Prime Old Ottawa East Waterfront Property Up For Grabs – But Nobody Wants It!
- Article on the progress of the “Au Coeur d’Ottawa” elementary school preparing to move into the Deschatelets building
/ Website of the school
- History of Ottawa East – St. Joseph Scholasticate index page
(a comprehensive website with history of the Oblates site and the Deschatelets building, a.k.a. Scholasticate)
/ Site map circa 1930
/ Photo from early 1900s
- For those not familiar with the location, another element to potentially inform the form(s) of commemoration installations is that, just this year, at least fifteen nests were laid by mother snapping turtles along the riverside corridor as well as in the adjacent upstream Brantwood Park (see baby turtle nest video)
It is as Robin Wall Kimmerer – founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment – asks in a different situation: “Why did they [the turtles] come to us, to do their most important thing, not hidden, not covert, but as if demanding to be the center of attention?”
- “the original Algonquin name for the Rideau River [is] “Pasapkedjiwanong,” which means, “the river that passes between the rocks.””
– Stephen McGregor, author of “Since Time Immemorial: Our Story. The Story of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg”, via bytown.net
Indian Residential School commemoration:
- Full list of 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
/ Government website tracking progress on Call To Action #79
/ CBC web project tracking progress on Call To Action #79
- Parks Canada’s Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
/ National program of historical commemoration
/ The Residential School System National Historic Event
/ Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate National Historic Event
// Update: A ‘counter-plaque’ was installed beside the existing NPOHC Oblates plaque
- Relevant websites, media, and news reports:
/ National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
/ 2013: Interview with TRC chairperson Murray Sinclair (video and article) as referenced in the editorial
/ 2013: A Collection of Life Stories of Survivors of the Quebec Indian Residential schools (booklet as online PDF)
/ 2018: Oblate religious order covered up decades of sexual abuse of First Nations children, victims allege (CBC)
/ 2021: At the St. Eugene Residential School – My Deschâtelets “Ah Ha Moment” in B.C. (Mainstreeter)
// Update: Webinar describing the process of establishing a Spirit Garden at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto
// Update: November 2021 CBC investigative series on the Oblates and residential schools:
* Residential school records once held in Canada now in Rome, researchers say
* Federal government under pressure to collect records from Rome
* ‘Far from bankrupt’: Catholic order that ran 48 residential schools faces criticism