Reconciliation: Re-Membering Creator’s First Sacred Pipe – A Panel Discussion with Albert Dumont, Lynn Gehl, Randy Boswell and Lindsay Lambert.
By Anne-Marie Hogue
(This article was published in condensed form in the Fall 2018 edition of the PEN. It is reproduced here in its entirety.)
At the heart of Ottawa, beside Parliament Hill lie the Chaudière Falls, a jewel of nature on the Ottawa River. Many people are unaware that Akikodjiwan has been a sacred meeting place for the Algonquin Anishinaabeg and Indigenous Nations at large for millennia. First, and foremost it is the land and waterscape where Creator placed the First Sacred Pipe, a place that inscribes the story of the ritual of reconciliation between human beings and the natural world; the adjacent three islands, Chaudière, Albert and Victoria Islands, at the foot of the Falls were a place where Indigenous people met to
participate in the ritual ceremony of smoking the Sacred Peace Pipe.
Lynn Gehl, Ph.D. is an Algonquin Anishinabe-kwe and an advocate, artist, writer, and an
outspoken critic of colonial law and policies. In her talk, Lynn Gehl will speak about the Sacred Pipe and draw upon Indigenous Knowledge and what it offers human beings as she has done in her most recent book, “Claiming Anishinabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit”.
Albert Dumont, poet, activist, playwright, storyteller and spiritual advisor will stress spirituality and its purpose in the life of a human being. As he says, “Indigenous knowledge is/was produced by a spiritual/dream world communication taking place between the human beings and their environment. The leaf, the feather, the rock, the brook and all other life can teach lessons connected to all seasons of life and offer spiritual guidance to us through their supreme wisdom.”
It was in the early 1900s that a dam was built on Akikpautik (Pipe Bowl Falls) as the Chaudière Falls are known to the Algonquin, to serve European peoples and their need for hydraulic power to transform trees into lumber. The Ring Dam, still remains today. The adjacent islands became a landscape where the lumber industry was situated including EB Eddy and later Domtar.
As Randy Boswell points out there was dual desecration of the Chaudière Falls: . . . “Euro-Canadian settlement of the Ottawa River region after 1800 marginalized the resident Algonquin people and put the falls under the yoke of industry. . . The waterfall’s sacred history was obscured – though not forgotten – and the associated burial site repeatedly disturbed, even as the sawmills powered by the Chaudière’s raging waters generated so much wood waste that it sparked Canada’s first major industrial pollution controversy.”
There are many thoughts to consider about this sacred site such as who owns the lands
historically? Did the historical industrial owners actually have deeds to the land? And, who is claiming ownership of this place today? It is argued that this land and waterscape were never ceded or surrendered by the Algonquins. There never was a treaty here. Further, why is it that respect for the natural world and Indigenous sacred places continue to be ignored?
Within the context of various Supreme Court of Canada decisions, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to action, and the Liberal government’s promise to negotiate from nation to nation on questions which concern indigenous peoples, these are reasonable questions for all Canadians to reflect on, free from the bias that the economic paradigm imposes. We owe this to the Algonquin, and the Tree and Water Nations. Lindsay Lambert, Ottawa-based published historian whose research is rooted in the archival record through a spiritual, justice and anti-colonial lens, will bring to the fore his knowledge of the history and his love of the site, the recommendations of the architect, Jacques Gréber for the National Capital, and how he was inspired by the vision of Grandfather William Commanda. He will share his research and discuss the legal aspects of the transfer of land to developers. These are according to archival records federal lands reserved for public purpose.
Randy Boswell is a journalism professor at Carleton University and a former local and national reporter specializing in historical writing and research. His probes into local archaeological history – first with the Ottawa Citizen and later as a Carleton researcher in collaboration with archeologist Jean-Luc Pilon – led to the recent identification of the true location and significance of an ancient Indigenous burial ground in Canada’s capital and helped spur a landmark 2005 repatriation of human remains from the Canadian Museum of History to the Kitigan Zibi community of the Algonquin First Nation.
Date: October 27: 2 to 5 pm
Location: Churchill Seniors Recreation Centre
345 Richmond Rd, Ottawa
For more information: https://freethefalls.ca/events/reconciliation-re-membering-creators-first-sacred-