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

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


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


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.
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.



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.


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.


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


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 […]”


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.



  • 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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.”

Sacred Site in the city, paved for profit?

** UPDATE – NEW LINK FROM MAY 30, 2019 **

Detailed, annotated resource guide that has a lot of what was discussed at the walk, plus links to documentation and further information:



Starts: Saturday 12:00 noon or Sunday 1:00pm
South end of Portage Bridge, at Wellington St.
(nearest address: Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington)

The walk details on the Jane’s Walk Ottawa site:
or https://tinyurl.com/may5walk

The Facebook event for both days:

Poster (half-page size, prints 2 per page):

Sarah Blyth at 2019 National Day of Action event in Vancouver.
Photo credit: Andrea Woo; used with permission.

Sarah Blyth, executive director of the Vancouver Overdose Prevention Society, explains what’s needed to address the rising epidemic of overdose deaths: safe supply of drugs, decriminalization, a better approach to mental health – which is to say, action from all levels of government.

She also discusses the experience of working in the heart of the crisis, the trauma, the stories from family members of victims, the advocacy work, the drugs involved, and more.

Full 17-min interview (mp3 file):

Short 2-min version (mp3 file) prepared for National Day of Action PSA, further below:


This interview was recorded when Sarah was in Ottawa, December 2018.

She was here to testify at the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, about the impacts of methamphetamine abuse in Canada. The audio of her presentation from the committee is embedded here (or mp3 file link) and there’s the transcript/audio of the full hearing with other witnesses and Q&A.


The PSA (Public Service Announcement) video, for the April 16 National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis, is viewable below. A transcript follows.

The video is also posted on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, and can be downloaded via archive.org for reposting. See coordinating organization capud.ca for more on the National Day of Action.

1) Declare a National Public Health Emergency.
2) Make #SafeSupply the Fifth Pillar of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Policy.
3) Make Heroin Accessible: Get Heroin a Drug Identification Number.
4) Decriminalize People Who Use Drugs.
5) Provide Emergency Federal Funding for Overdose Prevention Sites.

Graph of data from Public Health Agency of Canada (source link here).

CAPTIONS/TRANSCRIPT OF PSA (segments from full interview with Sarah Blyth):

“As you use opiates you need more and more over time

When you’re getting it from the street, you just don’t know what you’re taking

With fentanyl being here and it was in Vancouver and now you can see that it’s just making it’s way all across Canada and it’s in the States and everything else

Probably in about 2015 it seemed to be like, “Why are all the…”, you know what I mean like, “There’s more people dying than usual…” you know, you just couldn’t put your finger on it completely but there was just, there was kind of like a slow uptake of overdose deaths and then it was all of a sudden just everywhere

So it’s pretty traumatizing, so many people have been lost that you can barely get over, you know, the last person or the last even five people and you’ve got someone else dying that you have met and known for a long time or whatever and it’s just like, it’s so difficult to even have like, other people comprehend how it is, it’s terrible

I mean I don’t know how to make people understand the situation and that it’s a crisis and like how many interviews can you do with the media or anyone else for people to actually understand that people are really dying in outrageous amounts and there are things to do about it

I’m not really sure at this point why any level of government would be hesitant to really take on the crisis because I think people are ready for the government to take it on, like to do something serious about it

So I think, I think the government, it just doesn’t know what to do, because it’s not the health crisis that they ever expected. You’d expect all kinds of different things to to be a health crisis but this isn’t what you would think of

The stigma attached to drug use and there’s something underlying within humanity where they just aren’t taking it seriously enough

I don’t know how many more people have to die including young people there’s different stories but mostly it’s “I never believed that this could possibly happen to my family, and my child, or my family member”

There’s an organizations of mothers that have had children that have died and they haven’t… It just seems like nobody’s having an impact enough. All of the people that are asking to do something about it, the most heartbreaking stories haven’t been enough to make it a priority

They [governments] are not treating it as one, a real emergency.”

Photo again by Andrea Woo (resized)

Powershift 2019: Young and Rising takes place February 14-18. With environmental and climate problems increasing, it’s good to look back and see what knowledge can still be applied and lessons learned as effective action on climate change becomes increasingly more vital.

Below are three videos from each of the two previous national Powershift Canada youth climate activism convergences, 2012 and 2009, as well as a lead-up article to the 2009 gathering and two related pieces.

Videos are also embedded further below.

Note this year Powershift is livestreaming some video, and using the hashtag #YoungAndRising

2012 videos


2009 videos


2009 article

Just Green Jobs – Transitioning to an Environmental Economy
“Organizers of the Power Shift Canada 2009 conference are looking to bring hundreds of young activists from across the country to Ottawa, from October 23-26, to discuss climate change in the run-up to the United Nations Climage Change Conference in Copenhagen this December. But along with climate change, the Ottawa conference will also be looking to empower attendees to participate in the transition to green jobs…”


~ Related content ~

2008 article
Environmental Justice – Working Together for Transformative Change
“…the fight for “climate justice” is on the same level as efforts to end slavery, stop genocide, or win the right for women to vote. It’s on the same scale, but perhaps even more profound than any of those. What we’re saying is that climate justice isn’t just a technical thing or an economic thing or a political thing. It’s way bigger than any of that…”

2007 zine
Counterbalance: What sustains us? What stops us? Thoughts on activism and mental health
“… where psychology, ecology, and politics meet… to use the understanding that comes out of this convergence to help inform the creation of healthier activist communities and aid in producing more effective, continuing activism.”

~ ~


Videos, embedded


Print version of this article, 4-page PDF

by Greg Macdougall, EquitableEducation.ca

* A 4-page PDF of this article is available for print distribution
(also a 11″x17″ version) *


With Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro now in office, and his promised far-right fascism beginning to take form, international solidarity will be vital for Brazilian people and social movements. Brazil is the largest and most influential country to choose a leader aligned with the contemporary global rise of the far-right.

After his late October election, he chose his cabinet ministers – including many ex-military and evangelicals – and transformed the Human Rights ministry into the ‘Family, Women, and Human Rights’ ministry.

Now inaugurated, he’s made immediate changes that negatively impact Indigenous, Black, and LGBTIQ+ peoples, diversity in education, the minimum wage, environmental protection, and more. Privatization plans and pensions are amongst other announcements yet to take form. (The Intercept‘s Victor Pougy summarized these changes on Twitter – Jan 1st, Jan 4th – and on WORT radio; since then, The Intercept has reported on a new scandal of the Bolsonaro family’s involvement with money laundering and the militia death squad that killed Marielle Franco.)

In the two months between Bolsonaro’s election and his taking office, what we witnessed includes:

Bolonaro’s statements, both during the campaign and historically, illustrate the potential dangers facing Brazil (see The Intercept‘s compilation of quote highlights).

A December 21st warning statement “In support of Democracy, Human Rights and the Environment in Brazil” was endorsed by 47 prominent US-based organizations; the International Front of Brazilians for democracy and against the coup (FIBRA) also published a manifesto on January 1st. The Workers Party (PT), whose candidate Fernando Haddad finished second in the presidential election, issued a statement boycotting Bolsonaro’s inauguration, rejecting his aim “to impose a police state and tear apart the historic achievements of the Brazilian people.” On January 10th, the largest Indigenous organization in Brazil – APIB – issued a call for international solidarity, translated as “Indigenous Blood: Not One More Drop”; they also released a short video with English subtitles, and led a January 31st Indigenous mobilization #JaneiroVermelho (‘Red January’) that spanned 10 countries, 22 states, and 70 cities.


On multiple continents, collective organizing is preparing foundations of solidarity and support for the people and social movements in Brazil.

The first weekend in December, New York City hosted the founding meeting of the National Network for Democracy in Brazil. There are groups in Canadian cities of Montreal, Ottawa, and (in initial discussions) Toronto. Actions have been held in London England, with Brazilian Women Against Fascism UK partnering with Extinction Rebellion and others, including a focus on protecting the Amazon rainforest and its importance with climate change. A listing of groups worldwide is compiled at the website fibrabrasil.wordpress.com

The US network has called for a mass day of action on March 14, the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Marielle Franco, a Black bisexual Rio de Janeiro councilwoman, member of the PSOL (Socialism & Liberty Party), from the Maré favela. Her killing prompted protests and vigils across Brazil in honour of her work for social justice, her represention of the Black, LGBTQ, and favela-resident underclasses in the country, and her specific opposition to policies like the extra-judicial killings by militarized police that Bolsonaro campaigned to increase. Similarly, the MST has called for national ‘mobilization of working women on March 8 [International Women’s Day] as guardians of the legacy and memory of Marielle Franco.’



Two events in Ottawa featured speakers presenting context and analysis to the situation in Brazil and to the kind of solidarity support that may be most needed. Three audio recordings, each approximately a half-hour, are included here followed by accompanying written descriptions.

AUDIO FILES (embedded below): Mendonça/Garcez (29:44) – Levy (27:13) – Fernandes (29:55)

On November 1st , four days after the election, two Brazilian activist-lawyers spoke to about 50 people at an event hosted by Inter Pares along with the Council of Canadians’ Blue Planet Project:

Two weeks later at Carleton University, three academics spoke:


Presentation from Mendonça and Garcez, November 1st

In the days following the election, Brazilians experienced and witnessed attacks on workers, Indigenous, women, and LGBT people, said Mendonça. She mentioned that the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) had one of their camps set on fire, and that one of Bolsonaro’s first actions had been to establish a military taskforce to classify opposition to the new regime as terrorists.

Mendonça expressed that Bolsonaro is likely to influence neighbouring countries as well, while Garcez also highlighted the global climate change risk that his approach to the Amazon rainforest poses (60% of the Amazon is in Brazil).

Garcez noted that the judge who sentenced former president Lula to jail this past summer, Sergio Moro, has now been appointed by Bolsonaro as Minister of Justice. Lula was the favorite to win the presidency before he was imprisoned, and Bolsonaro was provided a huge advantage with Fernando Haddad, the Worker’s Party (PT) replacement candidate, only doing campaigning for one month before the first vote.

Mendonça described Lula’s jailing as illegal and political, saying there wasn’t evidence to convict him, and further pointing out that the order that kept him from communicating with the media while in jail was illegal and different treatment than for regular prisoners.

Garcez emphasized how bad it will be with Bolsonaro as president, although it is unclear what’s to come. He also explained that many had previously thought Bolsonaro would be unelectable based on what he represents. Garcez said that it’s wrong to think of Bolsonaro in the same terms as Donald Trump or Ontario Premier Doug Ford, even adding that he would gladly campaign for either of them if it was against Bolsonaro! He also noted that far-right European leaders like France’s Le Pen have distanced themselves from Bolsonaro’s positions.

Garcez and Mendonça did acknowledge problems exist/ed aside from Bolsonaro. For example, with the previous progressive Workers’ Party (PT) government, led by Dilma Rousseff until 2016, Garcez described his legal firm working half the day attempting to defend the Rousseff government from the impeachment/ parliamentary coup, and the other half to fight against her government’s privatization policies.

Mendonça – in response to a question about racism in Brazil today and the fact that it is not only with the arrival of Bolsonaro that these problems will suddenly appear and need to be addressed – explained that indeed, there is a historical trajectory of colonialism in the country, but what she was trying to highlight is how “we are now in such an extreme situation of crisis, so what can we do with the situation we are facing now – this is the urgency I was trying to express.”

Mendonça said that Rousseff had been impeached despite no evidence she was involved in corruption. When Bolsonaro voted for the impeachment, he declared to the Parliament that his vote was dedicated to the military commander of the Doi-Codi torture unit who had imprisoned and tortured Rousseff and others in the 1970s.

A number of attendees at the Ottawa event were Brazilians living in Ottawa; some had family members who had voted for Bolsonaro – the majority of Brazilians in Canada do seem to support Bolsonaro.

One Brazilian attendee noted the importance of international validation for the work and ideas of Brazilian activists and academics, as many Brazilians are dismissive of them. Mendonça noted the important role the international media had during the election in confirming that Bolsonaro is fascist, something not necessarily conveyed by domestic Brazilian media.

One of Mendonça’s suggestions was for Canadians to research and pressure Canadian companies that have businesses in Brazil. Her visit to Ottawa was scheduled along with a Food Secure Canada conference in Montreal, where two days later she co-presented on the case of farmland grabs involving Canadian pension funds.

She also emphasized that there will be a continuing need for connections and communication between activists in Canada and elsewhere with Brazilian social movements and alternative media.

*It was from this Nov 1st event that the new group Ottawa-Gatineau Solidarity with Democracy in Brazil OGSDB began. There is audio (8min) of OGSDB member Karla Matias interviewed by CBC radio in advance of the January 7 action at the Brazilian embassy in Ottawa.


Presentation from Velloso, Levy, and Fernandes – November 16th

João Velloso spoke about the ‘anti-enlightenment phenomenon’ that has emerged, where dialogue and mutual efforts at understanding are more and more futile against dominant discourse.

Truth is de-emphasized or marginalized to an unquestionable dogmatic reasoning that is mostly religious or militaristic: “What happened wasn’t mere fake news, but very well designed advertisements targeting sentiments and convictions of parts of the population. The objective was not to convince, but to reinforce beliefs. … And the left was not ready to deal with this kind of propaganda.”

Velloso presented a video as example, of a preacher celebrating Bolsonaro after he’d won the election. The preacher references the Bible’s Corinthians 1:27-28, “Yet God chose the foolish things of the world so He might put to shame the wise; and God chose the weak things of the world so He might put to shame the strong; and God chose the lowly and despised things of the world, the things that are as nothing” as the reason God chose Bolsonaro.

Charmain Levy gave an overview of what constitutes fascism, drawing on Umberto Eco’s work (Ur-Fascism, 1995) as well as Leon Trotsky’s (Fascism, 1938) to explore how they may apply to Brazil’s situation, particularly during the election campaign. She mentioned the “Escola sem Partido” (‘Education without Party’) push to remove progressive ‘ideological’ ideas from the school system, especially in terms of sexuality and gender issues, that has been given more life by Bolsonaro; this is happening in the country where Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed originated. She referenced Bolsonoro for being known as the ‘Mito’ (myth/legend), which was reinforced by his surviving a stabbing assassination attempt during the campaign, and how this fits with the non-rational and ‘symbolic’ strength of the ascension of fascism. The popularity of his ‘finger guns’ gesture also fit with the strength of symbol recognition. One primary aspect of fascism is the creation of an enemy to society: here it is the ‘communist red threat’, which does include, in this case, gays and feminists, progressive or leftist university professors, as well as those who identify with the PT party, among others.

Her analysis of what contributed to his election victory consisted of four main aspects. The first was the economic problems that had beset the country, including their mismanagent by the PT party and president Dilma Roussef’s appeasal attempts to work with the centre-right opposition parties at the time. The second was the media – both the corporate/mainstream media’s agenda to attack the PT, and the very successful and heavy use of social media to spread inaccurate political information during the campaign. Third were the efforts, similar to the corporate media, of the centre-right political parties to attack and discredit the PT – not realizing that much of the public would also discard the centre-right as ‘typical corrupt politicians’ and instead support the far-right. Fourth was the role of conservatives and churches in the campaign and in the country overall – a large proportion are highly religious and many were receptive to Bolsonaro’s proposals to ‘take a leap backwards’ to a time with more traditional and prominent roles of church, family, and discipline. Levy also mentioned Bolsonaro’s ability to harness popular sentiments, such as around the country’s high levels of violence, and said she thought his presidency will continue such campaign-style communication.

Sabrina Fernandes provided context and details of the situation of the leftist parties and political movements in Brazil, including the need for self-critique amongst the left. This includes how the PT could have helped build more of a public political and class consciousness while in government, whereas it wasted that opportunity and now there is a huge ‘loss of meanings’ including concepts of class struggle, democracy, the left and right, etc. Some public mis-understandings are of the Nazis as left socialists, of Marx as a satanist who practiced witchcraft, of democracy defined as a change of presidents (that it would be anti-democratic if the same president/party were voted in again). She explained how this was helped with the public discourse of Bolsonaro and the far right, with their campaigns of fake news and ‘fire hosing’ to reduce the credibility of their opponents, their bait-and-switch announcements to further support this, and the exploitation of ‘moral panics’ such as with the education system – the supposed agenda to push homosexuality and ‘gender theory’ on children – and with the communist threat.

She described the context, of a military dictatorship that ended less than 40 years ago, that has not been reconciled properly for the general population to understand the dangers, and with a constitution created 30 years ago, resulting in a fragile democracy. She also explained the process of depoliticization and demobilization that has occurred with a leftist government in power. This included a reduced focus of grassroots organizing in favour of more energy simply of holding marches, that has resulted in lessened political capacity. Her analysis included the far right ‘fakenews’ and ‘firehosing’ attacks, but also the real damaged credibility of the PT from corruption and other areas where they didn’t live up to their ideals. There was also what Fernandes explained as the mismanaged election strategy and failure of the left to work together. She applied the concept of Gramsci’s “crisis of authority” (Prison Notebooks, 1929-35) along with the PT’s loss of hegemonic power, and also an updating of an early Zizek concept of “ultra-politics” (The Ticklish Subject, 2009) with respect to the relative lack of antagonism against those who oppress, exclude and exploit the masses. The buy-in of many in Brazil to Bolsonaro’s rhetoric around ‘communists’ as criminals and the need to rid society of them is something she identified as part of the troubling trajectory the country is now on – with the looming danger of the systematization of the violence and repression that has until now only been random.


Greg Macdougall is based in Ottawa, unceded Algonquin territory, with close to two decades involvement in independent media and grassroots organizing. Website: www.EquitableEducation.ca

This article in PDF format (/11×17″) is intended as an organizing tool, to be printed and distributed at events, actions, classrooms, community spaces, and otherwise.