Canada Day in Ottawa

Canadian flag image by Pierre-Yves Guihéneuf from Pixabay

It’s Canada Day—a day to reflect on what this country is all about.

For me, it’s increasingly about understanding Canada as a creation of and a continuing space of colonization.

There are many great things about the people and lands where we live, but the narratives that dominate on Canada Day—a celebration of an inclusive, just and kind country, built through the hard work of its residents—mask the perpetuation of relationships that are based on power, privilege and persecution.

Until we can see our country for what it is, we will continue to perpetuate those harmful relationships.

There is plenty of information available on how we got to this situation, and what we need to do about it—including in the writing and activism of Indigenous people, and in successive commissions and enquiries. Some places to start:

1. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report and Calls to Action:

“For over a century, the central goals of Canada’s Aboriginal policy were to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and, through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious, and racial entities in Canada. The establishment and operation of residential schools were a central element of this policy, which can best be described as ‘cultural genocide.’ …Getting to the truth was hard, but getting to reconciliation will be harder. It requires that the paternalistic and racist foundations of the residential school system be rejected as the basis for an ongoing relationship. Reconciliation requires that a new vision, based on a commitment to mutual respect, be developed.… Virtually all aspects of Canadian society may need to be reconsidered.”

2. Read the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report and Calls for Justice:

“European nations, followed by the new government of ‘Canada,’ imposed its own laws, institutions, and cultures on Indigenous Peoples while occupying their lands. Racist colonial attitudes justified Canada’s policies of assimilation, which sought to eliminate First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples as distinct Peoples and communities. Colonial violence, as well as racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, has become embedded in everyday life – whether this is through interpersonal forms of violence, through institutions like the health care system and the justice system, or in the laws, policies and structures of Canadian society. The result has been that many Indigenous people have grown up normalized to violence, while Canadian society shows an appalling apathy to addressing the issue. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls finds that this amounts to genocide. ….Our Calls for Justice aren’t just about institutions, or about governments, although they have foundational obligations to uphold; there is a role for everyone in the short and the long term. Individuals, institutions, and governments can all play a part; we encourage you, as you read these recommendations, to understand and, most importantly, to act on yours.”

3. Learn about why Grand Chief Verna Polson of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council is on a hunger strike outside 100 Wellington Ave. across from Parliament Hill, which like the rest of Ottawa is on unceded Algonquin territory. The federal government is set to open the building at 100 Wellington as an Indigenous Peoples’ Space, in collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Metis National Council.

Algonquin nations are asking people to support Grand Chief Polson. You can also send a message to federal government leaders in support of the Algonquin Anishinabe call for a full partnership by using this link, and sign an online petition.

Here is more information from the Algonquin Anishinaabeg Aki Media Project:

“To all people who stand in solidarity with the Algonquin Anishinabe First Nation, we ask that you visit our Grand Chief Verna Polson who is bravely camped at 100 Wellington St. in Ottawa for 11 days now and counting. The Grand Chief is protesting the disrespect the Government of Canada and the three NIOs are showing to the Algonquin People by not including them as full and equal partners, on whose lands Canada’s Parliament Buildings are built. The Algonquin protocols are not being recognized and as titleholders to the land, we must protect it for the children of today and tomorrow. Our rights as a host nation are in jeopardy with this project. We will not be ignored.

We ask that you bring a tobacco tie, containing your prayer and good intentions of support. The Grand Chief will graciously receive your tobacco and keep it safely by her side to inspire and motivate her until the Algonquin Nation are full and equal partners. The tobacco gathered at the protest camp will then be feasted and offered into a sacred fire at a ceremonial site within the perimeters of Algonquin territory. Show your support! Show your respect!”

The establishment of new, respectful and equal relationships with Indigenous peoples and nations? That would be something to celebrate.

Advertisements

Jane’s Walk Ottawa 2019

Jane’s Walk Ottawa poster “Explore, share stories about your community, and connect with neighbours” courtesy of Jane’s Walk Ottawa

Jane’s Walk Ottawa is happening on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday May 5, 2019.

This wonderful annual series of urban and neighbourhood walking tours is a celebration of the built and natural environments and how residents shape those environments through their daily lives.

This year Jane’s Walk seems particularly poignant, as communities in Ottawa-Gatineau pull together to address flooding, both shaping and being shaped by the rivers, urban and rural landscapes and infrastructure, and weather.

If you can, check out some of the impressive walks this weekend—the Jane’s Walk Ottawa schedule includes more than 50. Walks are led by knowledgeable local residents, are held in English and/or French, and are free.

Here are some examples:

There’s also a celebration to mark what would have been the 103rd birthday of Jane Jacobs, with a reading from Walking in the City with Jane by author Susan Hughes, colouring with Ottawa in Colour, games and cake, on Saturday, May 4, 4-7 p.m.; and a Jane’s Walk Wrap Party on Sunday, May 5.

Jane’s Walks celebrate, challenge and enlighten our perspectives on the city and the choices we make that influence it. Do check it out!

Consult the schedule of walks and interactive map on the Jane’s Walk Ottawa website.

Thoughts are with everyone continuing to deal with the flooding.

Image of Canadian Museum of History with Jane Jacobs quote “Designing a dream city is easy – rebuilding a living one takes imagination” courtesy of Jane’s Walk Ottawa

Indigenous People’s Rights Before Pipelines

Image of Gidimt’en Checkpoint sign – from International Day of Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Facebook event page

It’s 2019—time to be the change we want to see in the world.

Today, there’s an opportunity to stand with Indigenous peoples who are asserting their rights to their traditional, unceded lands.

The International Day of Action in Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en takes place in Ottawa and other communities on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at noon on Parliament Hill.

The gathering is in support of members of the Wet’suwet’en People who are peacefully protecting their territories from construction of a natural gas pipeline by Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada.

Yesterday, RCMP moved in and arrested 14 people, on the grounds that the RCMP were enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to clear the way for construction of the pipeline.

The land protectors say this is a violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and of Wet’suwet’en law.

It signifies that Canada and Canadians are putting corporate profits and environmental degradation before Indigenous rights and any hope of a better relationship with sovereign Indigenous nations.

The Ottawa action will start at noon at the Parliament Hill front gate.

#timeisnow #Wetsuwetenstrong

 

 

Vote for a Sustainable Ottawa on October 22 2018

What’s the most important thing you can do for the environment on Monday, October 22? Vote.

Our municipal government is responsible for many of the systems that affect our ecological footprint as citizens and determine the city’s environmental health.

The people we elect need to lead the creation of sustainable, equitable and safe systems in many areas: planning and management of our built urban and rural environment (including development, infill, and affordable housing); action on climate change (including renewable energy); protection of our environment (including greenspace, trees, flora and fauna, water sources and quality); transportation (prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users); a strong local food system; and waste and recycling. They need to prioritize these in funding decisions. They need to value and support community engagement, local action, and accountability to residents as essential dimensions of our city’s governance. They need to work toward a different and better relationship with the Indigenous peoples on whose land we have built this city.

Some of the candidates for mayor and councillor have clear platforms on these issues (some may have even written the book on them). Others have positions or track records that indicate that these are not among their priorities.

If you need more information on the candidates for mayor, city councillors and school trustees before you vote:

  • Ecology Ottawa has done a survey of all candidates about their positions on local environmental issues.
  • The Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital has posted the results of a survey of municipal candidates on environmental issues.
  • The Ottawa Food Policy Council’s survey of candidates covers food issues.
  • OttawaStart has published a list of links to municipal candidate Q&As and debates.
  • The City of Ottawa website has lists of all candidates, including their websites, as well as information for voters about how and where to vote.

See you at the polls on Monday, October 22.

 

One World Film Festival 2018

The annual One World Film Festival in Ottawa is on from Thursday, Sept. 20-Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, with a bonus film on Thursday, Sept. 27. The Festival is jam-packed with documentary films from around the world on environmental, social justice and human rights topics.

Among the environment-themed films:

  • The short film Earthrise (USA 2018), about the power of the first photo of our shared planet taken from space, on Friday, Sept. 21, 6:15 p.m.;
  • Not in My Neighbourhood (South Africa/Brazil/USA 2017) on struggles for land and housing in São Paulo, Cape Town and New York, on Friday, Sept. 21 at 7:15 p.m.—highly relevant in light of the evictions of the Timbercreek Heron Gate community taking place in Ottawa;
  • The Wapikoni Indigenous short films program on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 1:30 p.m.

There’s also a post-festival screening of Anote’s Ark (Canada 2018), on climate change, rising oceans and people’s actions on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 6:45 p.m.

See the One World Film Festival website for details.

Walk for Akikodjiwan

All are welcome to join the Spirituality Is Unity: Walk For Our Sacred Site, Akikodjiwan on Friday, Jun. 22, 2018.

The Walk will bring Indigenous leaders, settler faith leaders and other community members together to reinforce the call for the restoration of this important site at the heart of Ottawa.

“Akikodjiwan—the Chaudière Falls and the Albert, Chaudière and Victoria islands—is a sacred site for Anishinaabe and many Indigenous peoples. It was publicly promised to be returned to Indigenous Peoples for a natural sacred site and public forest by all levels of government.

…The walk on June 22, 2018 is to remind the government of its promises and responsibilities towards Indigenous Peoples and to bring together all faiths in Ottawa to support the right of Indigenous Peoples to their sacred sites and ceremonies.”

from It Is Sacred website

Read more here: http://www.itissacred.ca/

The Walk starts at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jun. 22 on Victoria Island, Booth St. entrance. See details on the Facebook event page or Anishinabe (Algonquin) Elder Albert Dumont’s website.

Indigenous Knowledge and Cultures

Learn more about the unceded Algonquin territory we call home, and the people of these and neighbouring lands.

Indigenous Knowledge: What Does it Offer Human Beings?

At this talk, Dr. Lynn Gehl, Algonquin Anishinaabe, will share Indigenous knowledge and teachings, drawing from her book Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit. This free event is on Saturday, Jun. 23 from 4-6 p.m. at the Biblio Wakefield Library. Find details on the event page.

 *  *  *

Culture Night at The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health

Every Monday in June, The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health hosts an evening of cultural activities. Marie Wilson is featured on Monday, Jun. 18, and Albert Dumont on Monday, Jun. 25. (See above poster for details.)

 *  *  *

Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival 2018

Don’t miss the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival. This annual festival celebrating the cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples offers an array of arts and cultural activities, food, music, family activities, a competition Pow Wow and much more. From Thursday, Jun. 21 through Sunday, Jun. 24 in Vincent Massey Park.