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article imageCanada's Parliament Hill — Algonquin tribe claims ownership

By Karen Graham     Dec 9, 2016 in Politics
Ottawa - A group of Quebec Algonquins, in an effort to block a treaty between the Algonquins of Ontario and the federal and Ontario governments, has filed a claim for lands in downtown Ottawa, including Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court and Lebreton Flats.
The disputed land lies along the south bank of the Ottawa River, and according to a statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Wednesday. The CBC is reporting that the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation, which encompasses several Quebec Algonquin communities, historically occupied the islands and land near the Ottawa River.
The suit contends the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation has never surrendered its title to the Kichi Sibi lands. Kichi Sibi means "Great River' in the Algonquin language. "We have brought this claim to the courts as a last resort — we are tired of being ignored by the Crown, and it is time for the Crown to address our Aboriginal title throughout Ottawa and the surrounding areas," said Chief Jean-Guy Whiteduck of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg in Maniwaki, Quebec.
The National Capital Commission (NCC), the federal government and the government of Ontario are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Kitigan Zibi is part of an Algonquin group that claims the entire Ottawa valley as their lands, but Whiteduck says the lawsuit his band filed on Wednesday is "site-specific."
The lawsuit was filed in order to get the attention of Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. “We’re not against development but we want to be an equal partner,” Whiteduck said. “We have to be benefactors of that land.”
The parcel of land under contention in the lawsuit also includes an area called the LeBreton Flats, west of Parliament Hill, on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, reports the Ottawa Citizen. It is home to the Canadian War Museum and could be the future home of a new arena for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
But a big part of this story is a condominium development called Zibi. Ottawa-based developers Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corporation are behind the creation of Zibi., a plan that would see 1,200 condominium apartments along with new office and retail space built on a 37-acre parcel of land that spans the Ontario-Quebec border 2 km (6 miles) west of Parliament Hill.
LeBreton Flats.
LeBreton Flats.
National Capital Commission
Nine out of 10 Algonquin First Nations have gone on record as opposing the development because the site is considered sacred land. The lawsuit reads the government has “economically benefited from the Kichi Sibi Lands or has permitted others to do so, without transferring those benefits to the Algonquin Anishnabe Nation.”
The Quebec Algonquins also say they were not consulted over the $300-million-plus deal and that the Ontario Algonquins "[sold] their soul to the devil for a handful of peanuts," referring to the historic land deal Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett signed with representatives of the Algonquins of Ontario in October this year.
The federal and Ontario governments have 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.
Ottawa: Parliament Hill.
Ottawa: Parliament Hill.
Digital Journal
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