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

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