“Canada Day” in Ottawa 2017

This year, July 1 is important. Not because it’s Canada’s “150th anniversary,” though.

This year, important and compelling voices are drawing attention to Canada as a colonizing, settler nation. It’s a picture that isn’t as pretty as the stories we tell ourselves about our country. But it’s a more accurate one.

Indigenous peoples are reminding us that our country is founded on treaties that haven’t been upheld; on dispossession of land from the people living here; and on policies and strategies designed to eliminate them. The policies and strategies have changed over time, but they continue, as does the discrimination and racism that have become institutionalized.

Celebrating this history, and the society we’ve created—however respectful of rights, diversity and the environment we try to be—just doesn’t seem right.

So, here on this unceded Algonquin land we call Ottawa, here are some things I think we can do:

Listen. Learn about Unsettling 150, and why people have gathered on Parliament Hill and at the Human Rights monument this weekend. Listen, and resist the urge to reply with all the good things about Canada and Canadians—yes, there are many—but that’s not the point here. Follow people on social media who bring Indigenous perspectives.

If you’re not sure what Indigenous people are asking for, and what it means for you, start with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s article on land and reconciliation.

Read. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Report. Read Christie Belcourt’s Canada, I can cite for you, 150. Read an Indigenous writer. (My June/July reading includes Katherena Vermette’s The Break, Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian, Richard Wagamese’s Medicine Walk, and Leanne Simpson’s Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back.)

Support groups calling for change. Help protect the places in our city that are sacred to Algonquin and other Indigenous peoples. Spread the word. Make July 1, 2017 a turning point.

Written by Denise Deby.

Festivals in Ottawa

Image: Grass Dancer via Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival https://www.ottawasummersolstice.ca/media/

It’s definitely festival season in Ottawa.

Festivals can be great ways to get outside, celebrate the diversity that is Ottawa, and connect with community. Starting this week:

Welcoming Ottawa WeekJune 20-30, 2017

Welcoming Ottawa Week is an annual festival celebrating Ottawa as a city that welcomes newcomers, and hosting events where residents can get to know more about each other. Activities include a series of heritage walks in Chinatown, Little Italy and Lowertown with local residents sharing the stories of how immigrants have shaped those neighbourhoods, and Indigenous Walks, to understand Ottawa’s public spaces from an Indigenous perspective. There’s also a recreational soccer tournament, photo and art exhibits, film screenings, community picnics and much more.

Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, June 20-25, 2017

This colourful and fascinating annual festival at Vincent Massey Park (and a few other places) celebrates the artistic and culture diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. It includes live musical performances, theatre, art and food vendors, Aboriginal Day Live! and a three-day Pow Wow. Not to miss.

Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, June 22-25, 2017

With origins connected to nature and the bounty of the land and water, the annual Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival brings more than 150 teams to compete in dragon boat races at Mooney’s Bay Park. There’s also live music, a family zone, food vendors and more.

Also on: Canada Scene, the Ottawa Jazz Festival and Festival de la St-Jean à Ottawa.

Reconciliation in the Heart of Ottawa

Image: Hot Air Balloon Ride by Shanta Rohse Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hot_Air_Balloon_ride_Ottawa_I.jpg

Between Ottawa and Gatineau, three islands in the Ottawa River—Victoria, Albert, and Chaudière—along with the nearby Chaudière Falls, are a sacred site—Akikodjiwan—to Algonquins.

Like most of Ottawa, the islands are unceded, but have been industrialized and urbanized, with plans underway for a condo development on part of the site.

These plans threaten a vision for the area, advocated by Elder William Commanda and Architect Douglas Cardinal, for an international Indigenous gathering place and healing centre that will be open to people of all nations.

Local community and Indigenous groups and individuals are concerned about a festival taking place this month on Albert Island. The groups are not opposed to the festival itself, Craft Fest, but say it should not be held on Albert Island and the proposed condo development site (Zibi).

Among those who have expressed concerns are Kitigan Zibi Elder Albert Dumont and Westfest producer Elaina Martin. The Stop Windmill group has sent an open letter to Ottawa 2017 regarding its support for the festival. Free the Falls and others plan to hold a rally outside the entrance to Albert Island on Sunday, Jun. 11, 2017, the start of the craft festival, at 11:00 a.m.

It’s important that we learn what’s at stake and why people are concerned about these lands, particularly at a time when Canadians and their political leaders are talking about reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Elder Albert Dumont is leading a Faith is Peace Walk from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill on Friday, June 23, 2017, starting at 10 a.m., for people to understand and support an Indigenous vision for the area:

We seek the return and restoration of our sacred site, Akikodjiwan/ Asinabka/ Chaudière Falls and Islands, to the Anishinabe (Algonquin)….

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.”

Image via Kairos https://www.facebook.com/pg/kairosCEJI/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155424828861686

100In1Day, Doors Open Ottawa, World Environment Day and More

Image by abdallahh on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/22168167@N00/2083496138

June is underway with some amazing (and free) activities and events.

Kitchi Blanket Exercise

Join KAIROS in a journey to help understand the effects of colonization on Indigenous peoples. Using blankets that represent the land, participants trace a shared history from life before colonization, through treaties, residential schools, the “60s’ scoop” and more. Friday, Jun. 2, 2017 from 5-7:30 p.m. on Parliament Hill. A Pot Luck Community Feast and Open Mic on Saturday, Jun. 3, 6-9 p.m. at the Bronson Centre will honour Blanket Exercise facilitators and Elders.

100In1Day Ottawa

Visit an organic farm, re-imagine uses of the Ottawa Rail Bridge, help spread native plant seeds, join a hike and yoga in Gatineau Park, or take part in any of the other dozens of micro-actions in support of the environment and civic engagement on #100In1Day in Ottawa. It’s on Saturday, Jun. 3, 2017; see the website for details.

Doors Open Ottawa

This is your chance to see inside buildings not normally open to the public, and/or of historical, architectural or civic interest. Included are the Lemieux Island water purification plant, Parks Canada’s conservation labs, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind’s national training centre, SunTech Greenhouses, the Wild Bird Care Centre, and many embassies, museums, places of worship, government buildings, fire stations, sports and sailing clubs, art studios and more. Cycle or take a shuttle bus between some of the sites (see website for details). Buildings are open Saturday, Jun. 3 and/or Sunday, Jun. 4; check the schedule for times.

Westfest

A great reason to spend some time outdoors: Westfest, Ottawa’s free festival of music, art and family activities, with an incredible lineup of performers. It’s happening Friday, Jun. 3-Sunday, Jun. 4 in Laroche Park, Mechanicsville. See the website for schedule and details.

World Environment Day

Reconnect with nature: that’s the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, #WithNature, on Monday, Jun. 5, 2017. Take part by spending time in a park, going for a hike, planting a tree, birdwatching or digging in the garden; add some indoor plants to your life. Take photos and share what you’ve discovered. Contribute a landscape photo to the “World’s Biggest Nature Album,” or help build “the world’s largest nature database” by downloading the iNaturalist app and using it to record the biodiversity around you. You can also search for WED-related events in Ottawa.

Also coming up:

USC Canada’s public forum Shifting Ground: Transitioning to Diversified, Agroecological Food Systems Jun. 6

Carbon 613 and EnviroCentre’s Evening of Recognition Jun. 6

EnviroCentre’s Living Lightly event Jun. 8

 

 

Jane’s Walk Ottawa 2017

It’s Jane’s Walk time!

This annual series of walks explores and celebrates well-known and not-so-well-known public spaces, connects people with the built and natural environments around them, and sheds light on what makes for a liveable city.

Update: Jane’s Walk Ottawa is still on despite the rain, but check the Jane’s Walk Ottawa website to make sure the walk you want to attend hasn’t been cancelled due to wet conditions or flooding.

What makes Jane’s Walk particularly compelling is that the walks are led by local residents: storytellers, historians, scientists, community organizers, neighbours and others who volunteer to share their perspectives on parts of the city they know. The walks are free and open to everyone.

This year, Jane’s Walk in Ottawa-Gatineau takes place May 6-7. The 50+ local walks happen at the same time as thousands more around the world, all commemorating the ideas of writer and activist Jane Jacobs. Jacobs advocated for people-centred urban planning, building on the “intricate sidewalk ballet” of informal neighbourhood activities, for example, and for vibrant, accessible neighbourhoods.

There are so many great walks this weekend that it’s hard to list them here, so check out the full schedule at janeswalkottawa.ca. Here’s just a sample of what’s available to discover:

  • Envision Elgin St., Stittsville Main St., Rideau St. or Bank St. as redesigned lively, walkable community streets;
  • Take a foodie tour focused on local, organic food in Centretown;
  • See downtown through the eyes of an Indigenous woman, or from the points of view of people who have experienced homelessness, or from other perspectives;
  • Examine the past, present and future of Lebreton Flats; land use in the Central Experimental Farm; or the shift of a disused railway line into a green corridor;
  • Learn about Indigenous people’s relationship with the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers, colonialism, industrialization, urban planning, resistance and resurgence;
  • Find wild, edible plants growing in the heart of the city;
  • Check out Little Free Libraries in the Glebe;
  • Discover how downtown buildings can be made more bird-friendly;
  • Explore the connections between urban design and health in the Carling/Merivale area;
  • Learn about the ecology and restoration of the Pinhey Sand Dunes.

Also see the Jane’s Walk Ottawa and Jane’s Walk websites for more information about Jane Jacobs’ life and work. (Check out Ten Big Ideas drawn from Jane Jacob’s work.)

Hope to see you on a walk!

Posted by Denise Deby.

 

 

Protecting Gatineau Park

Posted by Denise Deby.

Gatineau Park has 361 square kms of wilderness habitats and striking geological features, 50 lakes, thousands of species (including 50 mammal, 10 reptile, 15 amphibian, 230 bird and more than 1000 plant species) and 140 species at risk–but it doesn’t have the same protection as a national or provincial park.

For many years, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-Ottawa Valley, through its Make it a Real Park campaign, has been calling for legislation and action to protect Gatineau Park.

CPAWS-OV is hosting a Café Scientifique–an informal conversation over refreshments–to explain the Make it a Real Park campaign.

The Café Scientifique is on Monday, Mar. 13, 2017 from 7-9 p.m. at Fox and Feather (283 Elgin St.).

Learn more on CPAWS-OV’s website.

Awakening to Ottawa’s Chaudière Falls

 

Chaudière Falls, Ottawa, ON, 1870 by William Notman (1826-1891) Musée McCord Museum on Flickr Creative Commons No known restrcitions
Chaudière Falls, Ottawa, ON, 1870 by
William Notman (1826-1891) Musée McCord Museum on Flickr Creative Commons No known restrictions  https://www.flickr.com/photos/museemccordmuseum/2918568677/in/photostream/

Posted by Denise Deby.

On Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, see Awakening, a film about the late Algonquin Elder William Commanda’s celebrated vision for the Chaudière Falls and islands as an international gathering site.

Authors David Mulholland and Romola Thumbadoo will also share reflections that shed light on Ottawa as Algonquin territory, and on Elder Commanda’s legacy.

It’s at Kitchissippi United Church (630 Island Park Drive), 7-9:30 p.m. Details here: http://ottawastart.com/events/film-documenting-indigenous-vision-for-chaudiere-falls-to-be-shown-at-kitchissippi-united-church/

See more on the Falls vision and area here: https://freethefalls.ca/