500 March to Protect Sacred Falls, Against Condominiums

On Friday, June 17, 500 people marched to protect the Chaudière Falls from the proposed “Zibi” condominium development.

500marchuse

The march was led by Anishnaabe people, and was initiated by Algonquin elders from Pikwàkanagàn.

In January of 2015 the National Capital Commission sold the stolen Algonquin land to Windmill to build condominiums on. Since then the fight to protect the Falls and Islands, which began in the 1970s, has heated up.

People began assembling on the south-east end of Victoria Island around ten o’clock. The crowd grew from fifty people, to approximately five hundred by 11:30am when it marched onto Booth St., heading south. The crown continued East on Wellington to Parliament Hill.

Between two and three hundred people stayed on Parliament Hill until roughly 1:30pm to listen to drumming and speakers.

walkers

Albert Dumont, an Algonquin spiritual advisor, artist and activist was there to “be part of this battle to stand up against people who would block our access to a sacred site.”

He continued, “a human being cannot be pushed out of a healing circle… and whenever they block us from accessing an ancient sacred site, that’s what they are in fact doing, is trampling on our right to freedom of religion”.

According to Gabriel Fayant, a  Métis originally from Fishing Lake Settlement, “If these islands are tampered with it’s really detrimental to our culture, to our spirituality, to our well-being.”

Nine of Ten Algonquin Chiefs Oppose “Zibi”

After the NCC sold the land to Windmill, the City of Ottawa rezoned the islands for private and commercial development despite the lack of consultation with Algonquin communities, and the objection of many Ottawans.

At this point, nine out of ten of Algonquin Chiefs and Band Councils, as well as the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador have publicly opposed the condominium project.

In a statement by the Algonquin of Wolf Lake First Nation, Timiskaming First Nation, Eagle Village First Nation and Algonquins of Barriere Lake they say that they were not meaningfully consulted, and that the proposed construction violates their rights to religious freedom.

Article 11 of the United Nation Declaration of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) states that, “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.”

The Trudeau Liberals have promised to uphold the UNDRIP.

“We can’t allow people to take away our inherent rights, our languages, our religions, our customs. They have to be honoured and respected,” said Douglas Cardinal, the renowned Anishnaabe activist and architect.

zibi

Liberal Promises

In addition to promising to respect the UNDRIP, the Federal Liberals have also promised reconciliation, and that they will pursue a nation to nation relationship with Indigenous peoples.
Windmill Development Group has also used the language of reconciliation when talking about their plans to make millions from the stolen Algonquin land.

However, Lynn Gehl, Algonquin Anishnaabe-Kwe, emphasized that, “in the context of reconciliation and a nation to nation relationship it’s absolutely ridiculous they would be developing a sacred algonquin place.”

Elders and organizers have said that the sacred march is only a first step in the battle to protect the Falls and Islands.

solidaritywithalgonquins

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