APTN National News
OTTAWA—A condo project slated for construction on Algonquin-claimed islands on the Ottawa River is now facing opposition from Quebec Algonquin chiefs.
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) have passed a resolution against Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corp’s Zibi condo project, which would be built on the Chaudiere and Albert islands and a portion of the shoreline along the Gatineau, Que., side of the Ottawa River.
The move by the Algonquin chiefs and the AFNQL presents the most formidable obstacle now faced by the condo project.
The condo would be built on the site of the former Domtar paper mill and which falls within overlapping territorial claims by the Algonquins of Ontario and Quebec.
The resolution, adopted Nov. 19, was introduced by Wolf Lake Chief Harry St-Denis and Kitigan Zibi Chief Jean-Guy Whiteduck and comes with the weight of 43-member First Nation communities that make up the AFNQL.
The resolution appears to have caught the developers off guard.
Jeff Westeinde, CEO of the Windmill Development Group, said he was unaware of the resolution.
“I haven’t seen it,” said Westeinde.
The resolution calls for the site of the condo development to be turned over to “the Algonquin nation and controlled by an Algonquin controlled institution to be established by the legitimate Algonquin communities comprising the Algonquin nation.”
The resolution also calls on Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the National Capital Commission and the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau to purchase any privately held lands in the area and turn them over to the Algonquin. It also calls for the jurisdictions to begin discussions aimed at creating an Algonquin national cultural park and historic commemoration site.
“The Kichizibi (Ottawa River) is an ancient trade and travel route through the territory of the Algonquin nations as are the shores, islands and portages along the route,” states the resolution. “The Akikodjiwan (Chaudiere) waterfalls and adjacent waterfronts and islands are a sacred area for all Algonquin peoples.”
The resolution states that the area destined for the condo is also a site that has caused historical misery for the Algonquins as a result of damming and deforestation to feed the now shuttered Domtar paper mill which led to flooding, starvation and impoverishment.
“The governments of Canada, Quebec, Ontario and the municipal governments of Gatineau and Ottawa have not consulted or accommodated the Algonquin communities that form the Algonquin nation,” said the resolution. “The governments…are violating Canadian law by proceeding to change the status of lands within the Algonquin sacred area without meaningful consultation or accommodation with all of the Algonquin communities which form the Algonquin nations.”
The project is currently supported by the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan, an Algonquin community in Ontario which sits about 160 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.
For its part, the federal Indigenous Affairs department is currently taking a hands-off approach to the brewing controversy.
“With respect to the Windmill Development project on these privately owned lands at Chaudiere Falls: it is our hope that the parties involved – Windmill Development Group, the City of Ottawa, the Algonquins of Quebec and the Algonquins of Ontario – can work together to find a constructive, respectful and positive way forward,” said a statement from the department.
Prominent architect Douglas Cardinal and writer John Raulston Saul have joined the opposition to the condo development.