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Ottawa chapter at public forum on Zibi condo development

The panel at the June 8 public forum.

Council of Canadians Ottawa chapter activist Phil Soubliere attended a public forum on June 8 in opposition to the Zibi condominium development on Chaudière Island and Albert Island, two islands on the Ottawa River a short distance from Parliament Hill.

The public forum organized by Stop Windmill—Student and Labour Allies for Akikodjiwan featured:

  • Douglas Cardinal (architect)

  • Clive Doucet (former city councillor)

  • Cathy Remus (Stop Windmill)

Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corp. are developing “low and high rise condominium towers and townhomes, commercial and office space, unique waterfront plazas and outdoor squares, recreational facilities, and more” on the islands. The Globe and Mail has noted, “[The project will] eventually bring 1,200 condo apartments, office space, retail and a substantial amount of new park space to this place, just two kilometres from Parliament Hill.”

Work on the $1.5 billion project began this past December.

The development is opposed by the Grandmothers from the Pikwàkanagàn First Nation (an Algonquin community about 160 kilometres north-west of Ottawa), Kitigan Zibi poet and traditional teacher Albert Dumont, architect Douglas Cardinal, Wolf Lake Chief Harold St. Denis, Kitigan Zibi Chief Jean-Guy Whiteduck, the Eagle Lake First Nation, the Assembly of First Nations, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, and others.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Cardinal, an Ottawa resident who has Blackfoot and Métis ancestry, has long supported the vision of the late Algonquin Chief William Commanda for an indigenous cultural centre on the islands.” He says, “The falls are like our Mecca or our Jerusalem, or St. Peter’s Square. For 10,000 years, people have come there for spiritual ceremonies, and it was only taken over by force. Now, we don’t do things that way. We are supposed to treat each other with respect. Would they build condos on St. Peter’s Square? No. But here, it’s a bunch of Indians.”

Algonquin and Traditional Grandmothers will be holding a Sacred Walk on June 17 to “save Ottawa’s sacred site from development”.

The outreach for this Sacred Walk says, “For over two hundred years we have asked the Crown and later the Government of Canada that our Sacred Site be returned to our care. Our Sacred Site was taken from us and we have been locked out of its reach – unable to pray at our Falls and Islands. …We call on the Canadian Government to declare this site sacred by National Aboriginal Day, June 21st, 2016. We also call upon all Nations, all Inter-faith groups and all citizens to join us in [this] massive sacred walk… In our Nation, the traditional Grandmothers carry the spiritual and ultimate authority – only at crucial moments do we call upon it. This is one of those historical moments!”

For more about the June 17 walk, please click here.