Tag Archives: Chaudière Falls

Faith Is Peace: A Story And Invitation

Imagine that there was a sudden shift in Canada’s social and political landscape, and your religion or spiritual practice was outlawed. Those of you who attempt to maintain your faith are persecuted if caught. You continue to practice your faith in secret. You have all been evicted from your Church, Synagogue, Mosque or Temple; let’s call it your Sacred Place. Companies vie for the chance to use the property. Your Sacred Place becomes a factory, and is desecrated and polluted.

In time, Canada becomes more equitable and fair towards followers of your religion. And the factory in your Sacred Place closes down. Your city agrees to return your Sacred Place to your community, since its industrial use has ended. One of your faith leaders has a beautiful vision for restoring your Sacred Place to its former glory and to be the place for you to worship and take refuge once again. You are very close to getting your Sacred Place back, but have not quite raised enough money to restore it.

And then a local company, BlowHard, announces it will buy your desecrated Sacred Place and transform it into eco condos and retail space called “Faithy.” Despite protests from your community members and allies, the City allows your Sacred Place’s land to be rezoned for this proposed development.

Your community was hit hard by the former repression, and now BlowHard approaches community members offering them work – if, and only if, they will work on further defiling their Sacred Place. BlowHard manages to hire some community members, and with slick and expensive media campaigns is busily convincing the mainstream public that your community supports the Faithy project and that it will create jobs for your community members.

What would you do?

Akikodijiwan behind bars

This is what happened to the Anishinabe (Algonquin) who were pushed away from their Sacred Place, Akikodjiwan. Akikodjiwan is comprised of the Chaudière Falls, which were dammed over 100 years ago and are inaccessible, and the islands downstream: Albert, Chaudière, and Victoria.  Akikodjiwan was and continues to be a sacred site for the Anishinabe and many other Indigenous Peoples.

Organized religions and some spiritual communities make human-built buildings their places of worship, their Sacred Places. But the Anishinabe and many other Indigenous Peoples identify their sacred sites in nature. They then pray and conduct their ceremonies at these sacred sites, like Akikodjiwan.

The fact that there are no buildings at many Indigenous sacred sites does not make them any less sacred or important than a Temple, Church, Mosque, or Synagogue. The land is just as soaked with prayer at Indigenous sacred sites as it is beneath a sacred building.

With Akikodjiwan, we know hundreds of generations of Indigenous peoples have offered tobacco to the majestic falls, and conducted their ceremonies on the islands downstream. If anything, the land and waters of Akikodjiwan are far more soaked with prayer than the much younger religious buildings built by settlers.

Anishinabe Elder South Wind (Albert Dumont) has called for support to protect Akikodjiwan. We are all invited to Faith Is Peace: Walk For Our Sacred Site, Akikodjiwan on Friday, June 23, 2017. This is our chance to support Anishinabe elders and activists seeking the return of their sacred site.

I will be walking in solidarity. With my baby. With all of you. For the future generations of all my relations.

Walk with you then!
Julie

More information​ about the Faith is Peace Walk

23 June 2017 Schedule:
10am: Gather on Victoria Island, at the Booth Street entrance. Prayers and ceremonies.
11am: Walk to Parliament Hill.
12pm (approximately): Reach Parliament Hill, gather for speakers

Call to action: http://albertdumont.com/indigenous-spirituality-is-precious/

“Indigenous roots intertwined and locked as one with settler roots, shoulder to shoulder, we will walk in prayer to the nation’s Parliament Buildings. Together, we will show the world that Indigenous spirituality is real and is as rich with the blessings of Creator as are all the other faiths practised by the citizenry who make up the population of Canada.”

Website: http://albertdumont.com/faith-is-peace-walk/

FB event to share share share: https//www.facebook.com/events/1906106689612742

Pictures and media from last year’s It Is Sacred walk: http://www.itissacred.ca/

River Dialogue

Dawn on Victoria Island, June 2015. ©juliecomber.comI have a confession.

 

I talk with rivers.

 

 

 

 

Mostly with the Kichi Sipi (Ottawa River) because I live near Britannia Beach and watch the sunsets there, and travel from the west end of Ottawa by bus or bike to downtown. A lot of songs and poems have come to me while I watch the river along the Ottawa Parkway. More recently, I started doing a kind of meditation, especially if I’m on the bus. I ask the River if she has anything to say to me. Is there anything she needs from me? What is my responsibility to her? A river in New Zealand, Whanganui, was just granted legal personhood. So let’s get talking!

It has been an interesting process. One of the recurring messages to me is “drop your ego.” Pretty good advice to a member of a species notorious for hubris. I don’t know if I’m connecting with the spirit of Kichi Sipi or with my own intuition or if this is fantasy, but there is something compelling and I feel I need to share what I’ve been hearing from the River.

Here’s the most recent river poem, that came during the bus ride to a meeting about Akikodjiwan (Chaudière Falls, on the Kichi Sipi in unceded Algonquin territory ) on the morning of 13 September 2015. I asked the River for guidance about this meeting, and how to interact with the people at the meeting in a good way.

Kichi Sipi, what do you say?

look beyond egos
including your own
 
the forces of the false gods of capitalism
are constantly seducing you away
from me
from all other beings on this planet
and into an anthropocentric thrall of technology
 
You ARE a child of the Universe
no less than the trees and the stars
but no MORE than the trees and the stars
no more than any other species on this planet
your species has gained powers undreamed of before you evolved
you need to grow up and wield these powers responsibly
you ARE subject to the same laws of the Universe as everyone else
the same limits of energy and resources this one mother earth can provide
 
you need to connect with your heart
people don’t see me
even when they do see me, stand in me, swim in me
still, some don’t connect to me
don’t truly love me
they are somewhere else
 

but the heart connects even if your brain is deceived
your heart knows me and the light in everyone

connect. drink the water. you are the water.
and so you are Love.

*******************

Let me know what you think. Do you talk with rivers? If folks are interested, I’m happy to post more of these river dialogues.
Shine,
Julie.

Opportunity to Honour Sacred Chaudière Falls and Nearby Lands

Do you love waterfalls? I know I do! I love being near falls and rapids. Recently, I feel I understand better why I love waterfalls. Of course they are beautiful and powerful and sound amazing. But Elders in Ottawa and in Guyana have taught me that waterfalls and rapids, the places where waters roar, are the places where Spirits gather. Here in Ottawa, we have a very special waterfall that has been mostly hidden from view by industrial development: Chaudière Falls. Now there is a proposal to redevelop the area, which offers an opportunity to make wise decisions about the future of this sacred area.

Background

For thousands of years, the ancestors of the Algonquin people prayed and offered tobacco at “The Kettle of Boiling Waters”, the mighty Chaudière Falls. But over the past 200 years, the islands and shores nearby were developed for industry. The Ottawa River’s flow was dammed up to operate paper mills and power stations. This place of Spiritual Power was harnessed to yield Hydroelectric Power.

Though in a weakened state, you can still feel the Spiritual Power of the Falls. And late Algonquin Elder William Commanda had an inspiring Vision, a Plan for the area, that would restore it as a spiritual place. A place for peoples to converge and learn about Indigenous Peoples. A place where people can heal.

Turning this Vision into Reality has so far been a slow process. But now there is an opportunity – if we all get engaged and work together!

Current Situation

Windmill Development Group recently signed an “Agreement of Purchase and Sale” for Domtar’s property, which includes Chaudière Island and part of downtown Gatineau. Chaudière Island is right next to Chaudière Falls, and was part of Commanda’s overall Vision for the area. Windmill Development Group also has a Vision for the area, expressed by co-founder Jonathan Westeinde: “Our vision is to create Canada’s most sustainable mixed-use community right here in the nation’s capital.”

Are these two Visions for this area competing or compatible? Let us take a look by going through the four main aspects of Grandfather Commanda’s Vision:

Elder William Commanda's Vision for the Chaudière area1. Free the Chaudière Falls. I think that is a separate process, and could happen regardless of Windmill’s proposed development. What do you think?

2. Create a City Park and Historic Interpretive Centre. For me, this is the point of potential conflict, because the Park and Historic Interpretive Centre were envisioned to be on Chaudière Island. I feel this is a very different use of the land than Windmill’s proposal to build a sustainable mixed-used community (with residential and commercial areas) on Chaudière Island. The only remaining condition of the “Agreement of Purchase and Sale” is that the area be rezoned for “a mixed-use community-scale development”. Personally, I think the area should be rezoned as “Sacred”!

3) Build a Peace Building Meeting Site; and 4) Build an Indigenous Centre. Both the Peace Building Meeting Site and Indigenous Centre were envisioned to be on Asinabka (Victoria Island). Asinabka is not part of Windmill’s proposal for the area, and could still go ahead regardless of what happens with Chaudière Island.

Quick recap: Windmill’s redevelopment sounds great and green, but would be on sacred land next to the sacred Chaudière Falls. What impact would the redevelopment have on achieving the Grandfather Commanda’s Vision for the area? What are Algonquin leaders, elders an community members saying? In my humble opinion, this project requires genuine, fair, and thorough consultation with Algonquin communities. It means really listening to what Algonquins want for their Land and Water. And then supporting their decision. Below are a few Algonquin views that I know of, please add more in your comments on this blog!

Some Algonquin Views

Windmill Development held a Public Consultation on 11 December 2013. Claudette Commanda, Elder William Commanda’s granddaughter, opened the Consultation event and spoke powerfully about her Grandfather’s Vision for the area. I have not been able to find any quotes in the media about what she said. Here’s what I recall. She told Windmill Development: “Now you know who we are. You know how to reach us.” And invited Windmill to meaningfully consult with the Algonquin Community about the proposed redevelopment.

Kitigan Zibi Algonquin Chief Gilbert Whiteduck stated in the Citizen that “I don’t believe this project should go forward without the indigenous centre. It should be the jewel in the crown” of any redevelopment of the area. Chief Whiteduck also said he and his community members are concerned about the future of Chaudière Falls, and “we will ensure to the best of our ability that our voice is heard.”

Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont just released a blog post about the sacredness of Chaudière Falls. One of his key concerns is that no matter what happens with the Windmill proposal, people need to have better access to the Falls to perform Ceremony, to pray, and to offer tobacco.

What You Can Do

This is the time to seize the opportunity to reclaim the Chaudière lands and waters that have languished under the toxic weight of Industry. It is a time to honour the spiritual power and importance of the Chaudière Falls and adjacent lands. It is time for everyone to express our views, hopes, and Dreams for this sacred place, right in Canada’s Capital. Will Canada’s Capital also be Canada’s Heart? It is a time to listen deeply and then act in solidarity with what the Algonquin community wants for the area.

Windmill developments is inviting feedback about their proposed redevelopment, called (for now) “The Isles/Les Îles”, until 31 December. Rodney Wilts from Windmill Developments (rodney@windmilldevelopments.com) responded to my question about whether there would be future opportunities for input after 31 December: “Regarding additional opportunities for input, we see community consultation as an ongoing process. Much of our ongoing consultation is happening now with direct meetings with groups such as Ecology Ottawa, the Ottawa Riverkeeper, Heritage Canada, Just Food, the Algonquins etc. Our next full public meeting will be sometime in the spring.” Do send in your views now (see below). And please stay tuned!

Keep Shining,
Julie.

Please send your feedback to Windmill Development Group about the proposed “The Isles” redevelopment of areas near Chaudière Falls to Rodney Wilts at: rodney@windmilldevelopments.com
Or snail mail comments (postmarked Dec 31):
Attn: Sheena Whitten
PACE Public Affairs & Community Engagement
Suite 201, 145 Spruce Street
Ottawa ON K1R 6P1 

PS – I would like to share a lovely note Judith Matheson posted on FB about sending in feedback to Windmill:

“Please emphasize the importance of honouring the history, the sacred and the spiritual significance of Chaudière Falls not just to the Algonquin people but to the deep spiritual needs of these times to remember the wisdom of our own ancient ancestors. Who lived in harmony and connection with nature and the Earth. If you wish contact Rodney Wilts of the Windmill Development Group as they welcome constructive feed back. Suggest he check out http://albertdumont.com/the-kettle-of-boiling-waters-chaudiere-falls-algonquin-territory/ and express how what you read made you personally feel around the significance of how this project is done and its affect on our world.

View of Parliament Hill from AsinabkaPlease share this info on Facebook and via e-mail as the old year ends and the new era begins. This project is not just about us. It is about our future generations and how we can play a role in helping Windmill and our own society relate to and in some way also experience by reading and being reminded of the true history, spirituality and sacredness of this area, as shared by Elder Albert Dumont. To relate to and ourselves connect with a deeper understanding of what he is talking about is what we have all lost. In nature the great healer we must strive to create deep spiritual understanding that all original peoples keep hoping we will remember.

That what we do to the Earth is reflective of what we are doing to ourselves. It is time we work together towards bringing back the harmony and flow of nature and this project has extraordinary potential and possibilities for Canadians to do just that.”