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OTTAWA, June 15, 2016 – Participants in a June 17th demonstration against a proposed commercial development on sacred Indigenous sites near Parliament Hill say if the project was ever built it would be “a monument to broken promises”.
That’s how Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg characterized Windmill Development’s plan to pave over Chaudière and Albert Islands in the Ottawa River with a high rise build of 1300 condominiums and 300,000 square feet of commercial space.
Dumont says the project betrays municipal commitments to the late Algonquin Elder William Commanda, contradicts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to reconcile relationships with First Peoples, and breaches the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Algonquin Elder Jane Chartrand says sacred lands are not for sale.
“This is exactly why reconciliation is so badly needed in this country,” she said. “The prime minister of Canada says the federal government is committed to restoring the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, in accordance with recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the principle of free, prior, and informed consent provisions of the UN Declaration.
“Meanwhile officials in the national capital region are barging ahead on this project as if they had no idea that they are sitting on unceded Algonquin land. In effect, everyone in Ottawa – including Members of Parliament – are tenants who have not paid their rent! This is sacred land which deserves our respect”
The ‘It is Sacred Walk’ begins at 10 am Friday, June 17th at Victoria Island, proceeding to Parliament Hill for speeches at noon. Its purpose is to state that the Asinabka – Akikodjiwan site is indeed sacred. The Federal government is expected to halt all development immediately and declare it sacred and protected.
The Algonquin Elders extend an open invitation to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his family and to all members of parliament and their families to walk with Indigenous peoples in respect, on unceded Algonquin territory.
More information at: http://www.itissacred.ca
Support for Elder William Commanda’s vision for Asinabka
On National Aboriginal Day in 2006 Ottawa’s then mayor, Robert Chiarelli – now a member of the Ontario Legislature –presented Elder William Commanda with the key to the city in a ceremony on Victoria Island, which lies adjacent to Chaudière and Albert Islands between Ottawa and Hull.
“We respect the vision of Elder Commanda that this place will become a beacon for all those values that speak to protecting Mother Earth, and the philosophies and values of all First Nations peoples.”
That vision – Asinabka National Indigenous Centre on Chaudière and Victoria Islands – was presented to the National Capital Commission board of directors on April 3, 2008, three years before Elder Commanda died at the age of 97.
The proposal — which included plans for an Indigenous Centre, free falls and a sacred forest- referenced public remarks made in August, 2006 by NCC chairman Marcel Beaudry at the annual Circle of All Nations International Gathering.
In his remarks, Beaudry acknowledged that the islands were a sacred Aboriginal site, that the commission wanted to recognize Aboriginal peoples by building a centre of national stature, that Aboriginal peoples should decide what activities took place on the site, and that the federal government would make an initial investment of $100 million and commit $11 million annually for programs and services.
Beaudry died in 2012, and that year the Harper government abandoned plans to protect the sacred site and encouraged private ownership. The National Capital Commission – a federally-appointed agency – subsequently approved the massive billion-dollar Windmill Development project.
Supported by the Assembly of First Nations, nine of ten federally-recognized Algonquin communities in the Ottawa Valley demand the project be halted. (Visit our website to read the resolution.)