Algonquin First Nations say they want a foot in the Indigenous embassy door - APTN NewsAPTN News

Algonquin First Nations say they want a foot in the Indigenous embassy door


Todd Lamirande
APTN News
Sitting right across from Parliament Hill, the former United States embassy is prime real estate in Ottawa.

Two years ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau re-dedicated the building as an Indigenous space.

Nothing much has happened since then.

But a few weeks ago a wooden structure began taking shape right next to the building.

In the shape of a wigwam, it will form an entrance into the former embassy at 100 Wellington Street.

The Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council isn’t happy with the progress.

“It’s just very upsetting how this process is taking place, and how we as Algonquin are being treated on our own territory,” said the tribal council’s Grand Chief, Verna Polson.

At a press conference Monday, the Algonquin leaders say their efforts to be full partners in the Indigenous space with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Metis National Council have gone nowhere.

“We’ve never been asked if we want to host this project,” said Kitigan Zibi councilor Frankie Cote.

“We’ve been deemed a host. but we’re not even partners in this whole thing. We’re partners for discussion purposes only.”

They say the sticking point is the Inuit and Metis organizations.

Last week Polson and Cote arranged a meeting with ITK President Natan Obed and MNC President Clem Chartier but neither of them attended the meeting.

“After President Chartier and President Obed didn’t show up for the meeting, it was a complete slap in the face. Chief Polson and I showed up. We actually skipped a meeting to be there and, you know, that threw off our entire day,” said Cote.

The Indigenous Peoples space is currently in the one building but there’s talk of expanding into the adjacent parking lot, the building next door at 90 Wellington St., and another building on Sparks Street.

“And we want to make sure the Algonquin Nation has its foot in the door,” said Cote.

The Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation is currently suing the federal government for title to the land Parliament sits on.

The suit is currently on hold while negotiations are ongoing.

However, talk at the press conference was about expanding the suit to include the land 100 Wellington sits on.

There was also talk of staging a protest like the one on Parliament Hill two years ago.

That’s when a tipi was pitched just days before the annual Canada Day concert was held.

“We could do the same thing. Put it outside 100 Wellington Street. Put it here and I mean… are they gonna kick us off? That would make a great headline for Canada, right?

“Kick off Algonquin people on their own land,” said Cote.

Crown Indigenous Relations sent a written statement.

“Representatives from the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council have been invited to meetings organized by the Government of Canada since January 2019, joining other partners (AFN, ITK and MNC),” it states.

“And they have been engaged on all aspects of the Indigenous Peoples’ Space initiative, including the logistics and planning of occupancy for the Indigenous Peoples’ Space.”

The Metis National Council did not return attempts by APTN News to comment on this story.

The ITK declined an invitation to comment.

tlamirande@aptn.ca

@toddlamirande

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