1. Stolen land is not the same as private property
Some proponents of the Zibi condominiums are saying that the islands are private property, and so Windmill and dream can disregard Algonquin opposition to the construction. It is important, then, to restate that Ottawa and the entire Ottawa river watershed is the territory of the Algonquin nation and that it has never been ceded or surrendered. At Caledonia, a private development was stopped by people from Six Nations as it was on their territory. This construction project can be stopped, too.
2. Consultations that have a predetermined outcome are insincere and dishonest
Windmill is being praised for engaging in consultations with the Algonquin band council of Pikwakanagan, and with the Algonquins of Ontario (an organization created to negotiate a Comprehensive Land Claim, and so terminate Algonquin Aboriginal Rights and Title in Eastern Ontario), but for Windmill and dream the end point of these consultations has already been determined – construction of condominiums on Chaudière and Albert islands. The Windmill representative said that they would disregard the opposition of five Algonquin band councils as the band council at Pikwakanagan is closer to the islands.
3. Federal, provincial and municipal governments have a legal duty to consult with First Nations about projects on their territories
Under Canadian law governments have a legal obligation to consult with indigenous communities about projects that may adversely effect their Aboriginal and Treaty rights in their territories.
Article 12 (1) of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites”. The Canadian government has adopted the UN DRIP as an “aspirational document” and so has a responsibility to protect the sacred Chaudière Falls and islands.
The UN DRIP also states that indigenous nations must give “free, prior and informed consent” to any projects that will effect their territories.
4. Real debate takes time and requires a diversity of opinions
Only one of ten of the panelists was opposed to the Zibi project. The other nine either spoke in favour of Zibi, or, at the least, did not oppose it. The organizers only left time for three questions from the audience, and the first five panelists were not available to answer questions. This is not real debate. This is not an honest representation of opinions on the subject of constructing condominiums on the islands.
5. Real democratic decision making is a slow process
Two one hour and a fifteen minute panels with five speakers on each is not enough time to have a good discussion and learn the facts with which people could participate in democratic decision-making about Zibi. In fact, the format of these panels, which were weighted in favour of Zibi, was anti-democratic, and more akin to a public relations exercise than a sincere effort at engaging in debate with the goal of engaging the public in a democratic process.
6. Windmill is presenting a false conflict between jobs and indigenous rights
Windmill is saying that either they build condominiums on Chaudière and Albert Islands and a small number of Algonquin people will get jobs, or they don’t build condominiums on Chaudière and Albert islands and Algonquins will get nothing. The reality is that Windmill and dream could relocate their construction project and still partner with Algonquin communities and hire Algonquin workers.
7. Zibi is part of a larger process of pushing poor and working class people out of the area, also known as “gentrification”
The neighborhoods of Centertown West and Lebreton Flats are being gentrified, as is most of downtown Ottawa. Rents in downtown Ottawa are the third highest in the country – the average price of a bachelor apartment is $727 a month, far more than most low-income people can afford. More expensive, inaccessible housing in downtown Ottawa is not social and economic justice.
8. Condominiums for rich white people built on stolen Algonquin land is not real environmentalism
While these condominiums are being sold as “green,” housing built on unceded Algonquin land that would only be accessible to mostly white middle and upper class people is not real environmentalism. It is not the type of environmentalism that leads to a solution to the ecological catastrophe we are facing. In fact, this type of “environmentalism” leads away from actual solutions to ecological destruction. It is not new, or “revolutionary”. It is just more of the same.
9. Windmill is a private construction corporation that exists to make a profit
Windmill Development is a private corporation that exists to make money. That’s what private corporations do. Everything else that it sells itself as is secondary to this fact. As a private corporation it engages in the exploitation of workers in order to make profits for executives and shareholders. In the case of the Zibi development, it is also seeking to profit from the historic and ongoing theft of Algonquin land by non-indigenous people and governments.