In Commemoration of Grandfather William Commanda and Jack Layton

Dear Friends,

This past month, two well-known people in our community – Grandfather William Commanda and Jack Layton – along with many more unknown heroes around the globe, went to the Spirit world. It is sad time for us but we know that they are in a peaceful place now. We send our love and prayer to all of their relatives and wish them strength to continue the work of these two men and countless others for peace. Grandfather and Jack had very different world views but they both spent most of their life working for their people. It is an honour to work for the people.

Photo Credit: Charline Dequincey

Grandfather William Commanda, the respectful spiritual leader of the Algonquin Nation, passed away on the morning of August 3. He would be 98 years old on November 11 this year! Ojigkwanong is the name his mother gave to him because he was born under the morning star. Even though Grandfather isn’t here physically with us anymore, he, like the morning star, will always look after us and lead us in a good way. We, the folks at this small grassroots group called IPSMO, had the honour to meet Grandfather three years ago.  Grandfather was one of our very first supporters for our work trying to learn and act in solidarity with Indigenous peoples.

On March 3, 2009, we had our first big event in the National Library and Archive. We screened the documentary “Invisible Nation – The Story of The Algonquin” and had Grandfather open the event for us. His Granddaughter, Claudette Commanda, was our special guest speaker. Grandfather’s presence was a big reason why close to 500 people showed up, overflowing the auditorium’s seating capacity and requiring the setting up of a second screen in the foyer! It was a big success and we did what we intended to do – creating an opportunity for native and non-native peoples, who’ve been separated by colonial measures like the reserve system, to get to know each other.

Six months later, Grandfather surprised us by coming to another big event we held – The Epidemic of Continuing Violence Against Indigenous Women, to raise fund for Maisy Odjick’s family. Maisy and her friend Shannon Alexander, both from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, went missing on Sept 6, 2008.

And at the beginning of this year he was active in supporting the efforts to protect the Beaver Pond Forest and South March Highlands in Kanata.

Grandfather has inspired us and many others. He taught us about forgiveness. It was hard to understand at first how he could forgive after so many years of colonization by the white settlers. But now, we understand: it is only through forgiveness, the white settlers / colonizers can have a way out of white guilt for what they have done to Native peoples.  It is only through forgiveness, the white settlers can have the chance to transcend their guilt and start their decolonization process, and the Natives can get a possibility for co-existence.

Please read here for more: http://bit.ly/GWC-passing and for a tribute from Organizing For Justice, including links to many media articles: https://organizingforjustice.ca/?p=623

Photo Credit: Mark Barber

Jack Layton, another respectful man, passed away on the morning of August 22.  We did not know him well, to be honest. But, at our recent direct action to support the Algonquins of Barriere Lake in front of the Minister of Indian Affairís office on a cold December day, he surprised us by showing up and speaking to the crowd in support of Barriere Lake’s inherent right to self-determination and customary governance. We thank him and respect him for his support for Indigenous rights and other social justice issues. RIP Jack.

To continue the legacy of these two great men and countless others, please continue supporting our solidarity work.  Here is how:

CALL FOR SUPPORT: ALGONQUINS OF BARRIERE LAKE

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake have been forced into a costly legal battle with Canada to protect their land rights. They cannot succeed without your support.

Please donate! You can either make checks out to “Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa” with “Barriere Lake Legal Defense Fund” in the memo line, or through PayPal – http://bit.ly/barrierelake.  Everything counts. Please give what you can.

For details on Barriere Lakeís legal battle and where to mail your cheque, please go to our previous post: https://ipsmo.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/barriere-lake-legal-defense-fund.

In solidarity,

Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa
On Unceded and Unsurrendered Algonquin Territory

Algonquin Union hand-delivers urgent letter of appeal to stop clear-cutting of South March Highlands in Ottawa

Update:

Open Message to Ottawa Mayor Watson and City Council
The letter being hand-delivered to Minister Chan today (Feb. 24, 2010)

Information on the archaeological artifacts found on South March Highlands

Note: Algonquin Firekeeper Daniel Bernard has been invited by NDP leader Andrea Horwath to speak in the Ontario legislature today.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 24, 2011

Algonquin Union hand-delivers urgent letter of appeal to stop clear-cutting of South March Highlands in Ottawa

(Toronto) Despite several respectful but failed attempts to schedule a meeting with Ontario’s Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Chan, representatives of the Algonquin Union are hand-delivering a letter today to his office. The letter, to be delivered by Algonquin Firekeeper Daniel Bernard (Amikwabe), contains new archeological information that provides Minister Chan grounds to stop the clear-cutting of South March Highlands in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

Tree cutting and heavy construction equipment continue to devastate this urban forest, which has been repeatedly identified as a site of significant archeological heritage, in addition to being of major environmental and ceremonial importance. The entire area has the potential to be recognized as Provincially Significant Cultural Heritage in accordance with Ontario Regulation 10/06.

“It is very disturbing that during the United Nations’ Year of the Forest the city of Ottawa is permitting one of the most amazing old growth forests located in an urban setting anywhere in the world to be destroyed,” Bernard says.

Algonquin people from across the Ottawa River Watershed in both Ontario and Quebec have called for an immediate halt to the KNL housing project at the site, while an independent archeological review is carried out to determine the cultural significance of the land. KNL’s own archeological study was accepted by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in 2004, despite being described as ‘fatally flawed’ by Dr. Robert McGhee, past president of the Canadian Archeological Association. Many other reviews and studies have concluded that the site is of high importance from a cultural standpoint.

South March Highlands is an old growth forest and one of the most bio-diverse areas remaining in urban Canada. It offers critical habitat to more than 675 species of life, including 240 species of wildlife, more than 135 nesting birds and 20 species at risk.

Contact:
Daniel Bernard, on behalf of the Algonquin Union: Cell: 416-876-3051   Email: dan_bernard@rogers.com
Paul Renaud  Cell: 613-277-5898    Email: paul@renaud.ca
Algonquin Union: http://www.union-algonquin-union.com

Algonquin Union seeks urgent action from Tourism and Culture Minister Michael Chan

Media Advisory for Thursday, February 24, 2011

STOP DESTRUCTION OF SOUTH MARCH HIGHLANDS
>> Algonquin Union seeks urgent action from Tourism and Culture Minister Michael Chan
Firekeeper Daniel Bernard (Amikwabe), on behalf of the Algonquin Union, will hand-deliver an urgent letter of request to the Honourable Michael Chan, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism and Culture on Thursday morning, seeking an immediate halt to the clear-cutting of South March Highlands (SMH) in Ottawa.

Despite numerous appeals to the Minister, Mr. Chan has yet to respond to the Algonquin request for a meeting to share new archeological information about the SMH site. This new information will provide grounds for Mr. Chan to stop the further devastation of land now being developed and considered sacred by First Nations people.

A sacred ceremony will be performed prior to delivery of the letter at 11 a.m. outside the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park “in the hope that the Minister and his officials will open their hearts and minds to preserve what remains of this sacred place,” Daniel Bernard states.

From: The Algonquin Union
When: 11 am, THURSDAY, February 24, 2011
Where: Main entrance, Ontario Legislature
Queen’s Park, Toronto

Contact:

Daniel Bernard, on behalf of the Algonquin Union
Cell: 416-876-3051
Email: dan_bernard@rogers.com

Paul Renaud
Cell: 613-277-5898
Email: paul@renaud.ca

For more information:
• Algonquin Union: www.union-algonquin-union.com

Sacred Fire for Beaver Pond Forest starts Wed in Toronto

Media Release ~~ February 8, 2011 ~~ For Immediate Release

SACRED FIRE WILL BURN AT QUEEN’S PARK FOR OTTAWA’S SOUTH MARCH HIGHLANDS

(Toronto) Daniel Amikwabe Bernard, Algonquin Firekeeper, will keep a Sacred Fire burning at Queen’s Park from Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th February to urge the province to halt tree-clearing and to promote understanding about Ottawa’s most important ecological and cultural heritage area.

The South March Highlands is one of the most bio-diverse areas remaining in urban Canada, with more than 675 different species of life, including 240 species of wildlife and over 134 different types of nesting birds.

For the past year local citizens, environmentalists and First Nations groups representing over 14,000 people have mounted a vigorous campaign to save undeveloped lands in the 10,000-year-old, ecologically unique, South March Highlands.  In the 1970s it was protected as a Natural Environmental Area but urban development has steadily eroded it until less than 1/3rd remains protected.  Citizens have actively opposed development since 1981 because the South March Highlands is an old-growth forest having the densest bio-diversity in Ottawa and provides critical habitat for 20 species-at-risk.

In the latest assault on the forest, KNL Developments recently began clear-cutting trees for a subdivision in an area known locally as the Beaver Pond Forest, even though development depends on planned water diversions without Environmental Assessment and a questionable archaeological study.

The principal Algonquin Spiritual Elder, Grandfather William Commanda, Ancestral Carrier of the 3 Sacred Wampum Belts, Officer of the Order of Canada, recognized as a spiritual leader and founder of the Circle of All Nations, considers the South March Highlands to be Sacred and sees this as an opportunity to renew our sustainable relationship with Mother Earth.

Algonquin across the Ottawa River Watershed in both Ontario and Quebec have called for a comprehensive archaeological assessment of the area.  KNL’s archaeological study was accepted by the Ministry of Culture in 2004 despite being described as ‘fatally flawed’ by Dr. Robert McGhee, past president of the Canadian Archaeological Association.  A review of the KNL study by Groupe de recherche archéologique de l’Outaouais (GRAO) led by Marcel LaLiberté, concurred that the area “can no longer be ignored as of low archaeological potential”.

In addition to questioning many irregularities in development approvals, the Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands has put forward creative proposals for stewardship of the South March Highlands that the City of Ottawa and the Provincial Ministries of Environment (MoE), Natural Resources (MNR), Culture (MTC), Aboriginal Affairs (MAA) and Municipal Affairs (MMHA) have to-date declined to discuss.

“We are also asking why the MNR has yet to confirm the area as a provincially- significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest despite the fact it was recommended for that designation in 1992, and why the MMHA has yet to enforce the Provincial Policy Statement that prevents development in ecologically significant areas such as ANSI candidates,” says Paul Renaud, of the Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands.

“We are asking why the MoE is allowing development to proceed without Environmental Assessments and why the MAA has yet to uphold the Canadian Constitution which requires the Crown to consult and accommodate the interests of First Nations,” adds Renaud.

Starting Wednesday, a Sacred Fire will burn as a beacon of hope within the provincial capital to promote understanding and to request support from the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, to issue a Ministerial Order to halt the clear-cutting, in light of the two independent archaeological reviews, and the discovery of potentially significant sites since the 2004 MTC approval.

In an unprecedented recognition of aboriginal religious practices by the Provincial Legislature, permission has been granted to keep the Sacred Fire burning day and night. The Sacred Fire is an altar for prayer and visitors are invited to approach respectfully and spend time with the Firekeeper to learn more about the South March Highlands and to discuss our relationship with Mother Earth.

On Sunday, February 13th, the Sacred Fire will go out at mid-day.  There will be Closing ceremonies, with drumming, prayers, and singing, a message from Grandfather William Commanda, and from other First Nations elders and chiefs.  Everyone is invited to join with us regardless of religion, race, or culture.

PLEASE NOTE:  There is a protocol regarding filming and photography at the Sacred Fire and media are kindly asked to speak with the Firekeeper before recording or photographing.

-30-

The Sacred Fire will be directly in front of the Provincial Legislature at Queen’s Park.

For more information:

Daniel Amikwabe Bernard – 416-876-3051

Liaison for Daniel Bernard: Peter Haresnape, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Aboriginal Justice Team – 647-838-8455 or office 416-423-5525

Paul Renaud, Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands  —  613-277-5898

Background Info:

UPDATE:

On the morning of Tues Feb 8th, approximately 20 community members staged an action in the forest, surrounding the cutting machines and temporarily preventing them from further destroying the forest:

Beaver Pond Forest: Welcome Rally for Chan & McGuinty

Saturday, February 5 · 6:00pm – 7:00pm
The Westin Hotel (11 Colonel By Drive, attached to the Rideau Centre), Ottawa

** Update: article in Ottawa Citizen “Westin hotel orders South March Highlands protester to leave”

Provincial Tourism and Culture Minister Michael Chan has the power to issue an emergency stop work order for cutting of the Beaver Pond Forest, under the Ontario Heritage Act section 62. Please consider joining us at 6pm for a rally outside the Westin, where the provincial Liberals are gathered from Feb 4-6, and where Dalton McGuinty is set to deliver a speech at 6:30pm Saturday.

Note:

This is part of a letter from Minister Chan dated February 4, 2011:

“The Ministry of Tourism and Culture’s role in this situation is limited to the regulation of archaeology. The ministry is not an approval authority in respect of any development project.

The ministry regulates archaeology by licensing archaeologists under the Ontario Heritage Act and reviews archaeological assessment reports as a condition of licensing in accordance with Part VI of the act.

The assessment ofthe property in question was completed under the 1993 technical guidelines, and on June 1, 2004 the ministry issued a letter confirming that the assessment report met all of the requirements.

We recognize the City of Ottawa’s efforts to foster dialogue between the development proponent and the Aboriginal community on this issue.”

The assessment referred to, prepared for the developers and accepted by the Ministry in 2004, was reviewed by an independent archaeologist, Dr. Robert McGhee, in 2010:  click here to read the review. More recently, a review of the assessment was conducted by the Groupe de recherche archaeologique de l’Outaouais (GRAO) for the Algonquins of Ontario: read Ottawa Citizen article here.

Both reviews of the initial assessment are strong grounds for Minister Chan to issue a stop order on cutting so that further archaeological study can be done.

~~~~

The South March Highlands have the highest density of bio-diversity in Ottawa and have been recognized as provincially significant for its ecological value for 20 years.

We have found physical evidence that the SMH is also provincially significant for pre-contact aboriginal cultural heritage, possibly containing sites not found elsewhere in Ontario.

Despite the recommendation of its own Advisory Committee on Arts & Culture, the City of Ottawa has to-date failed to properly assess this evidence and the sites that we have reported, saying that it is the responsibility of the Minister of Culture to require a new study.

To-date there have been 2 independent reviews conducted by eminent archaeologists of the situation.   Dr. Robert McGhee and Dr. Marcel LaLiberte are highly respected across Canada and around the world.  They have concluded that the Minister needs to order a new study and that the entirety of the South March Highlands are of extremely high archaeological potential.

The Algonquin First Nations in both Ontario and Quebec have all demanded that their cultural heritage be protected by the Minister – yet he refuses to fulfill his responsibility as a Minister of the Crown to accommodate the legitimate request of First Nations.

Minister Chan has not explained why he chooses to ignore their scientific assessments and why his Ministry refuses to consider the new evidence at hand.

We are here to ask him “why not?”

Contact Minister Michael Chan:

Ministry of Tourism and Culture
9th Floor, Hearst Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto ON M7A 2E1
Tel: 416-326-9326
Fax: 416-326-9338
mchan.mpp@liberal.ola.org

450 Alden Rd., Unit 5
Markham ON L3R 5H4
Tel: 905-305-1935
Fax: 905-305-1938
mchan.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Cutting taking place now at Beaver Pond Forest

CUTTING HAS BEGUN AT BEAVER POND FOREST
(please click here for background info – or read this article published Jan 31 at MediaINDIGENA – or twitter updates #BeaverPond)

MASS RALLY on Tues,  noon-1pm, at City Hall (Human Rights Monument, Elgin& Lisgar) please arrive early – We demand immediate halt to cutting and an Emergency Open Council Meeting including ALL Stakeholders by noon Wednesday Feb 2nd – invite people to the rally via Facebook

UPDATE – This morning (Tues Feb 1st), at sunrise, warriors from the Algonquin Nations chained themselves to the trees of the Beaverpond Forest in the South March Highlands to prevent further destruction of this important woodland. Media contact: Paul Renaud,613-277-5898 – update: read this story

UPDATE #2 – At 11:45 am (Tues) , concerned community members began a sit-in at Mayor Jim Watson’s office, demanding he take responsibility by immediately stopping cutting at Beaver Pond and calling for an emergency council meeting, open to all residents of Ottawa. Link to press release. Media contacts: Pei-Ju Wang (in mayor’s office) 613-276-8941, Ramsey Hart (offsite) 613-612-1768.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW:

  • Consider getting out to the Goulbourn Forced Road Parking lot to bear witness (approx map: http://bit.ly/eQ1e3i)
  • Print off pamphlets to hand out to friends, random people (print single-sided, or double sided and then cut in half to get two flyers)
  • CALL & email the following, demand they stop this

ASK him to put his foot down:  Robert J. Potts Principal Negotiator and Senior Legal Counsel Algonquin Treaty Negotiations (Algonquins of Ontario)
Telephone: 1-877-593-7221 x3952 email: bpotts@blaney.com

Mayor Watson: 613-580-2496, Jim Watson <jim.watson@ottawa.ca>;
Watson’s Community Liason Director, Adam DeCaire 613-580-2424 x22700

Hon. Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism and Culture – Markham-Unionville, Liberal
– Suggestion of what to say to Minister Chan:
“All of the Algonquin First Nations have invoked their constitutional right to consultation and accommodation regarding the imminent destruction of provincially significant cultural resources in the South March Highlands.  The Honour of the Crown is attached and it is your duty under the emergency powers of the Ontario Heritage Act to issue a Ministerial Order requiring a new archaeological study be done by an independent agency such as  the National Capital Commission.  This matter is URGENT and in the interests of the 14,500 citizens of Ontario who support the Algonquin and who, in addition to me, demand that you protect all heritage in Ontario.”

Ministry of Tourism and Culture
9th Floor, Hearst Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto ON M7A 2E1
Tel: 416-326-9326
Fax: 416-326-9338
mchan.mpp@liberal.ola.org

450 Alden Rd., Unit 5
Markham ON L3R 5H4
Tel: 905-305-1935
Fax: 905-305-1938
mchan.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Premier Dalton McGuinty
Tel: (416) 325-1941
Fax: (416) 325-3745
dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Constituency Office (Ottawa South):
Tel: (613) 736-9573
Fax: (613) 736-7374

Norm Sterling, MPP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills
Phone: 416-314-7900
Fax: 416-314-7966
norm.sterling@pc.ola.org

Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre
Phone: 613-722-6414
Fax: 613-722-6703
ynaqvi.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Urbandale (the developers)
613-731-6331 – mjarvis@urbandale.com

~~~~

RELEVANT WEBSITES:

South March Highlands / Beaver Pond Forest

Latest updates:

~~~~

A message from Paul Renaud (paul@renaud.ca, renaud.ca/wordpress):

I am writing to you on behalf of the 14,500+ persons in the multicultural communities who have come together to protect the South March Highlands from development in west Ottawa – only 20 minutes from Parliament Hill.

This multicultural community includes over 6,500 Algonquin in the First Nation communities of Ottawa, Kitigan-Zibi, Bonnechere, Kinounchpirini, Ardoch, Kichesipirini, and Pasapkedjiwanong who have responded to Grandfather William Commanda’s call for protection (attached).  The multicultural communities unified in protecting the South March Highlands also includes another 8,000 Canadians of non-aboriginal heritage as well as many non-Algonquin Metis.

We are asking for your support and influence with both federal and provincial leaders to call for an immediate halt to development and a reassessment of this situation.

The South March Highlands (“SMH”) has been described in official studies as a “wild island” of natural landscape within the City of Ottawa (“City”).  Until recently it remained largely in its original natural state because its rugged landscape was unsuitable for agriculture.  SMH is the southern end of the Precambrian Canadian Shield outcrop known as the  Carp Hills which first emerged from the Champlain Sea 11,000 years ago.  Its geology is unique to the National Capital and its wetland-rich land has been described in City studies as “an island of rugged, heavily-glaciated, rocky, Gatineau Hills-like habitat”.  The Carp Hills/SMH is the only place in Ottawa where the Canadian Shield is visible on the Ontario side of the great river.

No other major city in the world includes a vigorous old growth forest with endangered species.    The closest is perhaps Vancouver’s Stanley Park which is 1/3 the size, contains ½ the variety of vascular plants, and no species-at-risk as compared to the SMH which is refuge for 20 documented species-at-risk of extinction within a small area of only 3 km by 4 km in size.

The SMH is a candidate Provincially Significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (“ANSI”) for both its Life Science value (895 hectares) and for its unique Wetland Complex (114 hectares).  It has been valued by scientists as the “most important reservoir of ecological potential” in the City because it has the densest bio-diversity and its 30 eco-types of vegetation provide a wide variety of resources for the renewal of depleted natural areas elsewhere.  There are 10 distinct habitats within the SMH and the largest deer wintering yard (925 hectares) in the City.

The SMH is the aquifer for North Kanata and its hydrology is integral to both the Carp River as well as to the federally significant Shirley’s Bay wetland complex in the Greenbelt.  The SMH is ecologically unique in the City, supporting over 440 native species of vascular plants and has the highest floristic diversity of any natural area in Ottawa.

This SMH is also home to over 269 species of wildlife, including 170species of birds that are known to breed in this area, twice the number found in Punta Cana’s world famous ecological park.  The area is also home to the Monarch Butterfly, another species at risk, however no study of insect or bryophyte (non-vascular plant) species has ever been performed.  We have written to the Federal Minister of Justice questioning the lack of authority granted to the City to authorize a mass killing of wildlife but have received no response.

The SMH is also rated by the City as having high potential for archaeological resources.  To-date, 3 archaeological sites have been found that present evidence of native occupation of the SMH dating back 500 generations.  One of these sites was confirmed by eminent archaeologists but is tied up in a court case because the developer who commissioned the research refused to pay for it.  Two of the other sites have been identified but not been properly assessed to-date.  An archaeological study done by another one of the developers was reviewed by a former president of the Canadian Archaeology Association who determined it was “fatally flawed” for having not adequately considered pre-European-contact cultural resources.  Despite appeals to the Ontario Minister of Culture, nothing has been done about this.

We have also been working with the National Capital Commission to protect this area and in conjunction with the Greenbelt Coalition have made formal submissions which have been accepted by the NCC as part of their Greenbelt Master Planning process.  Two MPs, Gordon O’Connor and Paul Dewar have called on the NCC to protect this area, as have Elizabeth May, the Sierra Club of Canada, and the David Suzuki Foundation.  However, to-date Madame Lemay has declined to confirm any official NCC support for protecting the area.

This matter is now urgent as one of the developers is already clear cutting in the forest and another is about to start at the end of January. With the support of the Algonquin Chiefs, the Inter-Tribal Medicine Council has established a Sacred Fire last week which has been burning continuously to symbolize that this land is a place of Manitou and is integral to the cultural heritage of all Anishinabe people.  The Sacred Fire is currently being maintained around the clock by Fire Keepers representing all the communities that have been unified in this cause.

More information about the South March Highlands and our efforts to protect it can be downloaded from the links below.  This includes a couple of short videos that are well worth viewing.

We ask that you assist us in whatever way you can to bring this to the attention of both federal and provincial leaders for immediate action.

Please join us by adding your tobacco to our Sacred Fire to protect this place of Manitou.

Kitchi Megwetch,
Paul Renaud
Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands
613-277-5898

Letters sent by First Nations:

And by Grandfather William Commanda:

And by other Elders:

Motion passed unanimously by City of Ottawa’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory
Subcommittee:

Videos:

Presentations:

Other Letters of Support may be downloaded from:

www.ottawasgreatforest.com – website for the stewardship plan to protect the SMH)
www.southmarchhighlands.ca – (website for the coalition to protect the SMH)

http://onnaturemagazine.com/the-race-to-save-the-south-march-highlands.html – (Article in Ontario Nature Magazine)

http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-09-07%20Greenbelt%20Coalition%20Position%20Paper-for%20NCC%20Review.pdf – Greenbelt Coalition Position Paper to NCC on Emerald Necklace

http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-09-07%20Greenbelt%20Coalition%20Position%20Paper%20App5%20-%20SMH.pdf – Submission to NCC  on South March Highlands

Algonquin Native Lights Sacred Fire to Denounce Anticipated Forest Destruction

UPDATE: As of Sunday Jan 23, the Sacred Fire has been passed on to be kept up by the community (and volunteers are needed to take shifts) – click here for more …

OTTAWA –  Algonquin Daniel Bernard “Amikwabe” set up a camp this morning to keep a Sacred Fire burning round the clock next to the entrance of the Beaver Pond forest at the end of Walden Drive in Kanata.  This is a personal initiative “to denounce the massacre of the wildlife and this sacred forest” in response to a declaration by Algonquin Elder William Commanda that the forest is sacred.

The landowner, KNL Developments, moved tree-clearing equipment on to Beaver Pond lands January 18 after receiving City of Ottawa approval to proceed with plans to build a housing development.  Development plans have been contested by citizens for decades, and protest has peaked in recent months.

Grandfather William Commanda, the most senior Algonquin Elder, has stated that the area is sacred to his people, and has written letters to all levels of government urging protection of the land.  Four First Nations groups, Chiefs, and Elders have written similar letters of concern (see links below).

Archaeological artifacts have been found nearby that show evidence of pre-contact civilization.  Natives and non-Natives alike are calling for a comprehensive archaeological assessment and meaningful consultations with Aboriginal peoples before any development proceeds.

On January 12, the City’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Subcommittee passed a resolution noting that the City of Ottawa “should be seen as an example role-model to other municipalities in Canada in respecting Aboriginal affairs” and asked the City take the lead in conducting a new archaeological survey of the entire South March Highlands.

Gordon O’Connor, MP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills, recently asked the National Capital Commission to include the Beaver Pond forest in its upcoming revision of the Greenbelt master plan. Carleton-Mississippi Mills MPP Norm Sterling wrote letters January 17 to the Premier of Ontario and several other Ministers in support of protecting this land.

Robert Lovelace, former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, recently wrote that “If Mayor Jim Watson were a real leader, he would know enough to realize that the incremental destruction of the last wildlands in the city needs to stop.  As a real Chief, he would be on the side of the people and the land.” (see link below)

A Sacred Fire is a peaceful religious observance.  Bernard, of the Algonquin Beaver Clan, invites others to join him and pray for the forest and the animals.  He plans to keep the fire burning until Sunday, January 23.

Members of the community are providing support to Bernard, and will be joining him throughout the protest.  All are committed to protecting the Beaver Pond forest and other environmentally sensitive areas of the South March Highlands, which is home to more than 675 species, including 19 species at risk, and recognized by the City as one of the most biodiverse areas in Ottawa

– 30-

For more information:
Steve Hulaj — 613 878-1135

Directions:
Exit Highway 417 at Terry Fox Drive and go North past the shopping centers.  Turn Right and take Kanata Avenue up the hill.  Proceed past Goulbourn Forced Road on the left and high school on right, to Walden.  Turn Left on Walden and proceed to the very end.

BACKGROUND:

Letters sent by First Nations to-date:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-09-Kinounchepirini_Algonquin_FirstNation_Letter.jpg
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-09-SMH_Ottawa_Algonquin_FN_Support.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-10-AAFN_letter%20to_Ottawa.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-14-Ottawa_Letter_From_Kichesipirini_Algonqiun_FN.pdf

And by Grandfather William Commanda:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2010-08-24_Circle_of_Nations-South_March_Highlands.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2010-12-20-GWC_Letter_To_Council.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-05-GWC-Message_Regarding_Development_at_South_March_Highlands

And by other Grandfathers:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2010-08-14-A_plea_for_the_forest-Grandfather_Albert_Dumond.pdf
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-14-Grandfather_Lovelace_Letter_to_the_Editor_Revelation18.pdf

Motion passed unanimously by Ottawa’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Subcommittee: http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/2011-01-12-Unanimous_AHCAC_Motion_on_SMH.pdf

Background info:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZBcLvtcJBY (4 minute documentary video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhSU5heJl5o (cultural and natural heritage video)
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2011-01-13-SMH-1-SMH_Overview_v16.pdf (SMH Overview presentation)
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-12-07-SMH-2-Stewardship_Plan_Overview_v4.pdf

Other Letters of Support (e.g. David Suzuki Foundation, MP Gordon O’Connor, MPP Norm Sterling) may be downloaded from
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Letters_of_Support/

Submission to NCC on South March Highlands:
http://www.renaud.ca/public/Presentations/2010-09-07%20Greenbelt%20Coalition%20Position%20Paper%20App5%20-%20SMH.pdf

www.ottawasgreatforest.com (website for the stewardship plan to protect the SMH)
www.southmarchhighlands.ca (website for the coalition to protect the SMH)

Thurs 13 Jan noon – Save Ottawa’s old-growth forest Rally!

Protect the Beaver Pond Forest in Kanata


We demand the City of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the Province of Ontario to hold the development of the Beaver Pond Forest!

The Beaver Pond Forest is on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Territory.  All level of the government – the City of Ottawa, the NCC and the Province of Ontario must respect the requests of the Algonquin First Nation communities as well as the local Ottawa community to do a full archeological assessment of possible medicine wheels and artifacts dated back 10,000 years ago.

~~ RALLY! ~~

Noon, Thurs Jan 13
Meet at the Human Rights Monument, Elgin at Lisgar, next to City Hall

GOAL

This is a rally to demand that the City of Ottawa, National Capital Commission (NCC), and the Province of Ontario step up and do their job: order Urbandale Corporations and KNL Development Inc. not to clear-cut or blast any of the Beaver Pond Forest at least until spring when an archaeological assessment can be re-done.

This is for ecological, archaeological, cultural, spiritual and humane reasons. All levels of government could halt development based on new evidence that the archaeological assessment needs to be redone. But none is taking responsibility. So we are taking action to remind them to do their jobs and make the City of Ottawa a better place to live, for us now and for future generations.

PLAN for Thurs Jan 13:

  • 12pm (noon): Assemble at the Human Rights Monument at corner of Lisgar & Elgin, next to City Hall
  • Bring your own signs, we also have some made which will be used in a subsequent Activist Art show (first come, first served 😉
  • statements will be read, letters delivered, songs shared. We will march to the NCC Office at 40 Elgin Street, past their Info Ctr across from, Parliament Hill, and end back at City Hall. Exact schedule TBA.
  • Be musical (bring instruments & noisemakers!)
  • Main Message to City Hall, NCC, & Province: Take Responsibility! Do the Right Thing: Save Beaver Pond Forest!

MORE INFO

“Some twelve thousand years ago the South March Highlands where the Beaver Pond Forest is found was an island surrounded by the waters of the ice age created Champlain Sea. As the water receded, a rich and fertile land renewed its relationship with the winds. The birds, insects, animals and people living on the highlands at that time carried the seeds of trees and also pollen of the islandís plant life further and further into their ever-widening territory.” – Algonquin elder Albert Dumont

Now the developers are set to destroy the forest in order to build a subdivision. The commencement of destruction is immanent – we need to take a stand NOW!

Community voices:
http://the5thc.blogspot.com/
http://candle4kindness.wordpress.com/

A letter from Grandfather William Commanda, Algonquin Elder, to the relevant public officials: http://www.ottawasgreatforest.com/Site/Algonquin_Information.html

Details on inadequate environmental assessment & storm waster management plans: http://renaud.ca/wordpress/?p=716

TAKE ACTION:

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, Jim.Watson@ottawa.ca
Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Marie Lemay, Chief Executive Officer of NCC,
marie.lemay@ncc-ccn.ca
Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Culture, mchan.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Peter Evans, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Minister for Culture,
Peter.Evans@ontario.ca
Chris Bentley, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, cbentley.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Gordon O’Connor, Federal Cabinet Minister and MP for Kanata,
oconng@parl.gc.ca
Norm Sterling, MPP for Kanata, norm.sterlingco@pc.ola

Also write to the developers to hold the development of the Beaver Pond Forest and do a full archeological assessment of that area:
Urbandale: mjarvis@urbandale.com 613-731-6331http://urbandale.com/corp
Richcraft: info@richcraft.com – 613-739-7111 – http://richcraft.com

Petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Do-Not-Cut-Beaver-Pond-Forest-or-SMH/

Join the network to help protect this precious land:
– email info@ottawasgreatforest.com and ask to stay updated
– or on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46087029890

UPDATES

Any updates will be on the FB Event page http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155983114454420 and at http://candle4kindness.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/save-beaver-pond-forest-rally-at-city-hall-13-january-noon/