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Protests Against Destruction of Beaver Pond Forest Move to City Hall (Ottawa)

Sit-in at Mayor's office, noon-hour rally outside City Hall, Algonquin defenders of the land chain themselves to trees in the forest

A diverse collection of people and communities have rallied together to protect the forest - photo by Martha Troian
A diverse collection of people and communities have rallied together to protect the forest - photo by Martha Troian



Protests Against Destruction of Beaver Pond Forest Move to City Hall

Ottawa, ON (Feb 1, 2011) - This morning at sunrise Warriors from the Algonquin Nations chained themselves to trees at Beaver Pond Forest, stopping the destruction of the sacred forest that started on January 31st. 

Making their way on site, they managed to stop cutting from taking place at the opposed site of KNL Developments.  “If Mayor Jim Watson were a real leader, he would know enough to realize that the incremental destruction of the last wildlands in the city needs to stop. As a real Chief, he would be on the side of the people and the land,” wrote Robert Lovelace, former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, who is chained on the destruction site.

At 11:45 am, concerned community members began a sit-in at Mayor Jim Watson’s office, demanding he take responsibility by immediately stopping cutting at Beaver Pond and calling for an emergency council meeting, open to all residents of Ottawa.

 “We are saddened to have to take such drastic measures to have our voices listened to and our rights respected,” commented Pei-Ju Wang, who is taking part in the sit-in. “The city and the province have refused to listen to the voices of the Algonquin, and other concerned community members, and have condemned this forest to be a sacrifice zone for the expansion of urban sprawl.”

Beaver Pond Forest is the entrance to the South March Highlands and – an area recognised for important ecological values and the last of Ottawa’s old growth forest. Archaeological artefacts have been found nearby showing evidence of pre-contact occupation. Algonquin Nations have been vocal in calling for a new comprehensive archaeological assessment and meaningful consultations before development could be allowed to proceed.

“The Mayor, Council, and city staff are failing their duty to protect this important natural area that has unified local residents, Algonquin people, ecologists and recreational users. The city has deferred to the province while the province has referred citizens back to the city. Is this how the new Mayor and Council want to kick off their terms in office? We’re here to do what we can to protect this sacred land, its historical value, and its future as a green space in Ottawa,” commented Ramsey Hart.

Photos will be posted to:


Paul Renaud - 613-277-5898 (re: forest action)

Pei-Ju Wang – 613-276-8941 (at mayor’s office)

Ramsey Hart – 613-612-1768 (offsite, French-speaking)





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436 words


Proposed Development in South March Highlands

anuary 6, 2011
A Message from William Commanda regarding the Proposed Development in South March Highlands
Your Worship the Mayor and City Councillors,
City of Ottawa
Re: Proposed Development in South March Highlands
Greetings for the New Year.
I write again with respect to the campaign to save the South March Highlands site. This holiday season has been afire with the passion of many community voices determined to protect this unique area.
I together with many others again urge City Council to initiate an immediate and comprehensive archaeological survey of this site; I believe it is the underlying responsibility of the crown and governments and the National Capital Commission to safeguard this ecologically and archaeologically unique site of the South March Highlands as a potential national heritage site, one of significant Indigenous importance, and as an Algonquin in the unceded, unconquered and unsurrendered Ottawa River Watershed, I add my voice to the call for such action.
I also add, as spiritual elder, that beyond its archaeological history, this is a living temple, a place of Manitou, a special place of nature, and that precious reality also demands immediate protection and reverence.
I, like many others, am deeply concerned with the devastation of yet another precious bio-diverse eco-space; the ancient history and records of the land itself, and the signature and knowledge of its original inhabitants of 10,000 years ago, yet to be uncovered and comprehended, add to the potential irreplaceable loss. It is no insignificant heritage that lies here – the likes of this site and heritage would be deeply valued in other homelands.
I am Algonquin of the Ottawa River Watershed, and this Kichisippi landscape is the traditional homeland of my ancestors over countless centuries; our predecessors occupied this ancient, earliest habitable, land over ten centuries ago, and this is significant in the history of Turtle Island and the globe.  Our understanding of this history and heritage in the Watershed has been obliterated and distorted over the past five hundred years, but increasing numbers of people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are beginning to reach to this heritage that now binds us all to this land, and they are already finding their lives enriched.
In recent correspondence to the City’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Advisory Committee, I wrote “It is becoming increasingly apparent to most citizens that Aboriginal Peoples and our history, art and culture are largely invisible in the capital city.  During this past year, I have had meetings with the City’s Cultural Renewal team, and I am encouraged to see that some work is now underway to address this deficiency/omission.”
The present challenge presents an opportunity for transforming this history.
I have written two notes on this matter in past months. I add these words to support the great community effort now underway both to protect an ancient forest and to understand the complexities of the Indigenous voice.
1.    It is very encouraging to me to see communities questioning historic land acquisition and ownership practices, development, and environmental stewardship practices; I have seen in recent years the growing strength of diverse voices coming together and impacting established governance structures with considerable knowledge and expertise. I pray bridges of understanding will evolve in engaging with these voices of the future in the exercise of true leadership in our complex and evolving societies.
2.    I have followed the efforts of the local community for many months, and I see the huge challenges in the cause being addressed with creativity, passion, research, information, prayer, dedication and commitment. I note the group has also made courteous outreach to the developers, and I hope this brings positive outcomes. I see the growing awareness of the need for Indigenous voice in the effort.  Unfortunately, most Indigenous Peoples have been far removed physically from the energy and heritage of this place. But this does not mean that the protection and preservation of this heritage is not of crucial importance.
3.    I speak for myself alone, and for my Circle of All Nations, a global eco-community unified by my fundamental and unshakable conviction that as children of Mother Earth, we all belong together, irrespective of our individual colour, creed or culture.
I am ninety-seven years old; in less than a month, my spirit will have been part of this land ninety nine years; that is a long, long time.  I have witnessed much transformation here and across Mother Earth, and I see many, many shortcomings in our individual and collective relationship with the penultimate source of life, shortcomings that are costing us, future generations, animals and plant life more and more dearly each day. I believe Mother Earth herself must and will draw us back to sustainable relationships for and with all.
I have been passionately interested in my history and heritage for close to a century; this passion fired the creation of the Circle of All Nations, focused on advancing Respect for Mother Earth, Indigenous Wisdom, Social Justice and Peace Building, and we conceptualize the intermix of these priorities under the rubric of Sustainable Relationships. This is the essence of our ancient Indigenous prayer, Ginawaydaganuc, which reflects that, in the final analysis, we are all connected – with the water we drink, the air we breath, with the food, medicines and gifts the earth provides us, with the animal teachers, with the larger universe, and with each other. Modern scientists and quantum physicists are trying to apprehend this immense reality of the circle and cycle of life.  This is a medicine circle and medicine cycle that demands respect and responsibility. Thousands of people from across the world, Indigenous and non-Indigenous have participated in my annual gatherings to e
 ngage in the creation of such an understanding of and in our lives.  South March Highlands is one such learning site.
4.    While focused on the protection of this specific site, I see the seeds of this larger vision taking form in this South March Highlands Campaign.
By way of illustrating this point, I mention the following:
      •Indigenous Peoples have expressed our concern for Mother Earth to the United Nations since the 1940s, myself amongst them; in October 2010, the Policy Matters book emerging from the UN Conference on Biodiversity in Japan (after which Canada and the United States signed on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) notes (page 209, my photo included) the struggle to practice Ginawaydaganuc, and sustain the biological diversity of (our) homeland; that day is coming;
      •In 1987, at the Constitutional Debates, as Carrier of our Sacred Wampum Belts, I reminded the then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the Premiers of their historic and collective failure to protect the environment, consistent with the Three Figure Welcoming Wampum Belt heritage of the land, and issued an urgent warning and appeal for sustainable stewardship;
      •In 1996, with the release of the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, I drew attention to the polluted Ottawa River waters, noting that the survival of Indigenous Peoples and the environment were in fact one and the same thing, something that others not genuinely “at home” here need to understand, in order create a respectful relationship with Mother Earth; in the end, the pollution impacts all our lives;
      •I served as spiritual guide for the 1995/96 Sunbow Five Walk for Mother Earth, a walk from First Encounter Beach, Cape Cod to Santa Barbara, California, to bring Indigenous prayer back to land despoiled by bloodshed, expropriation and exploitation;
      •On my Circle of All Nations brochure, I note that endless stream of logging trucks through my homeland feels “like a needle in my eye”;
      •and it is only since my Waterlife Workshop of 2006 that the capital city and now Gatineau have awakened to the gravity of the pollution of the Ottawa River.
I mention these few things to show that my concern for the South March Highlands is consistent with a much larger and longer commitment to the environment and Mother Earth.  Further, I have been engaged here in Kanata regularly over the past dozen years, have conducted countless ceremonies here with people from all over the world; and I photographed the four-trunked tree in my Circle of All Nations logo myself, here in Kanata.  Hence my message.
It has not been easy to awaken people to my way of understanding life; my ancestors have had to suffer dismissal of our traditional practices over countless years.  In view of our commitment to assert an Indigenous position, and in the spirit of the Seven Fires Prophecy, I try again.
I realize this file is not an easy one to resolve, given decisions, management, legislative, and development precedents. Yet this is one of the critical challenges of our times. Already, much pristine space has been lost to development.
In view of the body of information and the interest now come to light, I pray deep wisdom and urgent action will guide interventions and the crucial next steps.  True consultation with a range of players, creative engagement, genuine exploration of options and opportunities and time can guide us to new pathways out of the forest.
With respect.
William Commanda
Algonquin Elder html
NOTE: No mistake about being 97 yrs. old & nearly 99 yrs. on Turtle Island because Indigenous peoples  count being in the womb as being in this realm..

previously ..

Dbaajmoowin: Dialogue with the Elders

February 23, 2009
The Honourable Mervin Tweed, Chairperson
House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
House of Commons, Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario
Dear Honourable Mervin Tweed, Chairperson:
Re: Concern about proposed amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA) and request to have the proposed amendments to NWPA withdrawn from the Budget Implementation Act
I am a ninety five year old Algonquin from the Ottawa River Watershed, and my passion and commitment over many decades has been to draw attention to the ceaseless plundering and destruction of the grand natural resources of my ancestral lands, the deepening environmental crisis across the globe, and its impact on our lives and health; to promote environmental stewardship; and to warn of the crucial need for Indigenous wisdom in reclaiming a balanced relationship within the world we all live in.
Just today, I was requested to lend my voice to support the request to protect our waters from impending changes to the Navigable Waters Act, and the request came from non-Aboriginal community environmentalists.
I have not had much time to review this file; however, consistent with federal and provincial legislation, I believe the onus lies on the federal government to ensure full and proper consultation with Aboriginal peoples in developing public policy and legislation; and in this matter, which has serious implications in the Boreal Forest, in our traditional territories and to our lifestyles, rights and heritage, the responsibility is even greater.
Having said that, I must also say that some, like me, have deep reservations about laws, and regulations and amendments, often seeing these as tools that have given others unjustified rights over our lands and resources.  When my ancestors first met Philomen Wright at the Sacred Chaudière Site on the Ottawa River in 1800, and asked by what right he cut down the trees and took the land, the stranger drew a paper from his pocket and read “The Indians have consented to relinquish all claim to the land, in compensation for which they receive annual grants from the Government, which shall be withheld if they molest settlers.”  This paper, my ancestors saw as a big “loup garou”, an indescribable monster supposed to have supernatural powers, and in my own lifetime, I have experienced the deep fear this reference brings to native peoples.  Ironically, on his deathbed, Philomon Wright himself said, “When I look back over the past achievements of my life they are of no profi
 t when viewed in the light of eternity.  The sun that has lighted our way is going down in a cloud – a dark, dark cloud!” Indeed an ominous statement, and we are all now beginning to fear its implications.  (ref. The White Chief of the Ottawa by Bertha Wright Carr-Harris.)
It is not without reason that we have been fearful about the powers wielded over our lands, and since the nineteen forties, we have raised our voices in protest against the many abuses to Mother Earth, and raised the alarm against unbridled and unregulated exploitation of the natural world. In the 1600s the land transformation began with none of the resource management strategies my ancestors had developed and employed over centuries: with the fur trade, logging, dams, hydro, and nuclear energy, the resources of my peoples of the Ottawa River Watershed gave birth to Canada, and they are now dangerously polluted and depleted.  I have said elsewhere that “I believe Mother Earth is a living creature.  She has a body and spirit and veins. The rivers are her veins. If they are blocked and contaminated everywhere, cancers and poisons build up; eventually they kill.  Dams, motorized vehicles, foreign animals, fertilizers, pesticides and raw sewage attack the lifeblood of Mother Ea
 rth.  She has to fight back.  It is Nature’s Law.”  And what happens to her, happens to us because we are inextricably connected.  I reiterated this message to the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law in 2007.
Now we live in a world regulated by legislation.  We must make this legislation work for our communal good, and this can only happen if it is consistent with Nature’s Law.  Just last night on the CBC news I heard talk about Canada’s great natural resources in the context of the world economy; in this time of global economic crisis, we have to be scrupulously careful about protecting and safeguarding our resources, and ensuring their sustainability. This priority is not what generally drives economic interests, and that influence has played a significant role in the development of legislation historically. Ingrained in Indigenous philosophy is the concept of protecting our resources for the Seventh Generation, and we did that consciously and conscientiously in the past. Many of the threads of that knowledge have been eroded since contact, but I believe it is of crucial importance to all that Aboriginal Peoples regain their positions as custodians of the land, I believe it
 is in everybody’s best interest, the public’s and governments’, to facilitate and support this transition. We are the threads to hold the integrity of this land intact.
Many have heard me repeat the “Only After” Indigenous prophecy repeatedly over the years:
•    Only after the last tree is cut,
•    Only after the last river is poisoned,
•    Only the last fish has been caught,
•    Only then you will know that
      Your money cannot be eaten!
We are living in times of prophecy.  The then is now!
•    Logging is in decline
•    Since my WaterLife Workshop in 2006, the terrible condition of the Ottawa River has repeatedly come to public attention
•    The ancient American Eel, which was once so plentiful in the Ottawa River Watershed, has been placed on the Endangered Species List in Ontario
•    And now we are all caught up in the worse global financial crisis ever.
It is of crucial and urgent importance that we reassess our priorities collectively, and today, we depend on governments to understand and evaluate many priorities to ensure balanced, sustainable lives for all, including all that constitutes our natural world.
I add my voice to those requesting the withdrawal of the proposed amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act from C-10, the Budget Implementation Act, and I call for more effective consultation with the public at large and with Aboriginal communities and individuals.
William Commanda, Hon. Phd., O.C
Algonquin Elder
Founder, Circle of All Nations (General Information) (Indigenous Centre Information)  (Elder Commanda’s Recent Activities)
cc.  Honourable John Baird, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities


All are committed to protecting the Beaver Pond forest and other environmentally sensitive areas of the South March Highlands, which is home to more than 675 species, including 19 species at risk, and recognized by the City as one of the most biodiverse areas in Ottawa

Exit Highway 417 at Terry Fox Drive and go North past the shopping centers. Turn Right and take Kanata Avenue up the hill. Proceed past Goulbourn Forced Road on the left and high school on right, to Walden. Turn Left on Walden and proceed to the very end.


Letters sent by First Nations to-date:

And by Grandfather William Commanda:

And by other Grandfathers:

Motion passed unanimously by Ottawa’s Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Subcommittee:

Background info: (4 minute documentary video) (cultural and natural heritage video) (SMH Overview presentation)

Other Letters of Support (e.g. David Suzuki Foundation, MP Gordon O’Connor, MPP Norm Sterling) may be downloaded from

Submission to NCC on South March Highlands: (website for the stewardship plan to protect the SMH)

For the most part, Canadians

For the most part, Canadians base their current attitude towards Aboriginal people on IGNORANCE & lack of info.

Historical education is a key factor to finding a solution to the current challenges in Canada.

The way landclaim process is set up in Canada is twofold: comprehensive & specific.

Specific deals with white "Indian Affairs " agents' lack of proper dealings & overseeing ( and taking a cut of ) monies generated by the leasing of reserve land to non-native farmers & corporations for 100 yrs. leases & illegal landsales to THIRD parties. Investigate & you'll find that the "rich" of towns surrounding reserves had an ancestor who was an Indian Agent.

Third party land sales are still a legal loophole that exists today: which means that all Canadians on Indian land cannot be "thrown off " land they have bought & paid land taxes to Canada for.

But NATIONS must "petition" Indian Affairs to settle & while Indian Affairs investigates the validity of said petition - which may takes years - the land can & may be leased or even sold to third party interest - like condo corps, mining corp. or crown corp. like railway/hydro/ etc. etc... which is why our communities are NOW stopping corps. BEFORE they build.

I am sure if communities could place a lien on disputed land - an legal option used by Canadians looking to buy land...

My community fought for 20 yrs. for a specific landclaim - all the way to the Supreme Court and guess who was against us in court?

CANADA/QUEBEC/ONTARIO & various other provinces who had an interest fighting against treaty & aboriginal rights.

When we won that case we developed a sugar bush & Ontario settled with Golden Lake Algonquins regarding landuse in Algonquin Park...


Then again...sigh


In 1991, they signed a landmark Trilateral Agreement with Canada and Quebec to protect Algonquin land uses, conserve the forest and wildlife, and to receive a share of resource revenue.I remember that I was working at AFN @ we protested on Parliament Hill & when all the media left, the RCMP came around to bust up the camp & of course over the yrs. they have been arrested on the road, in their community, at goverment  offices facing the racism & insults from Quebec conservative MPs..

THAT AGREEMENT HASN'T BEEN ADHERED TO BY QUEBEC & DIAND 'S INVOLVMENT WAS SUSPECT & NOW PROVEN! Top Diplomat's report to Minister laid out strategy for government subversion of Algonquin community "A document recently released under court-order reveals a former prominent diplomat officially advised Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl to undermine the elected leadership of the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake and quash their signed Trilateral agreement - a course of action then pursued by Strahl and the Department of Indian Affairs.
The advice revolves around the threat that the agreement's implementation would pose to a key government policy controlling unsurrendered native lands.

To help protect the land To

To help protect the land

To help protect the South March Highlands, please send your emails to:

Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Culture,

Peter Evans, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Minister for Culture,

Chris Bentley, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs,

Gordon O'Connor, Federal Cabinet Minister and MP for Kanata,

Norm Sterling (Member of Provincial Parliament), or

Group of Seven iconified "BEAVER POND" TO BE DESTROYED


Those committed to protecting the the South March Highlands, home to more than 675 species, including 19 species at risk recognises that the area have been described as a “wild island” of natural landscape within the City of Ottawa. Until recently they remained largely in their original natural state largely because the rugged landscape was unsuitable for agriculture or urban development.

The SMH is a distinctive setting in the National Capital from 4 major

Visual Distinctiveness: The Beaver Pond at the southernmost tip of the SMH illustrates a natural beauty representative of the Canadian landscape that has been iconified by the Group of Seven.

Natural Ecosystem: No other major city in the world includes within its borders a vigorous old growth forest with endangered species such as the SMH. The closest is perhaps Vancouver’s Stanley Park which is1/3 the size, contains half the variety of vascular plants, and no species-at-risk (“SAR”) compared to the SMH.

Cultural Heritage: This is, in fact, the earliest known evidence of occupation in Eastern Ontario. The vast majority of Early Paleo-Indian sites in Ontario are located near the shores of the Champlain
Sea & sediments in gravel pits have yielded the bones of bowhead & beluga whales together with ringed, bearded and harp seals. The apparent presence of quartz veins provided a quarry used by the early Archaic period.

Evidence of Euro-Canadian settlement include:

· A Feldspar Mine dating approximately to 1919-1921
· Several 19th Century homesteads dating back to 1820
· McMurtry’s Tannery, built in the 1860s, still stands on 2nd Line Road

Geomorphology & Geology : The SMH are at the southern tip of the Precambrian Shield & supplies half of the basewater flow for the Shirley’s Bay wetlands.


Read more:

Submission to NCC on South March Highlands:


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