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Community gathering held in Beaver Pond Forest to stop cutting (Ottawa)

Community members encircling one of the cutting machines at Beaver Pond Forest. Photo credit: Chris Bisson
Community members encircling one of the cutting machines at Beaver Pond Forest. Photo credit: Chris Bisson

video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TybFj4RZvwE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE

Community gathering held in Beaver Pond Forest to stop cutting

Ottawa, ON (Feb 8, 2011) - This morning at sunrise a group of concerned community members gathered in front of the machines that have been destroying the Beaver Pond Forest in Kanata for the past week.  After years of trying to work with the mayor and council, looking into legal avenues, signing petitions, writing letters, holding rallies, and even trying to buy the land, residents have been forced to confront the destruction directly. *Note: after about two hours, and being threatened by police with trespassing charges, the community members voluntarily left the site.

The Beaver Pond Forest is the gateway to the South March Highlands, the last of Ottawa’s old growth forest. This community gathering space is a biodiverse and significant ecosystem that is home to 679 species, 20 of which are species at risk. Furthermore, archaeological artefacts have been found nearby showing evidence of pre-contact civilization.

The Beaver Pond Forest has been identified as sacred by Grandfather William Commanda and other Algonquin Elders, and several Algonquin communities have stated that there must be meaningful consultation and accommodation with them about any development of the area.

The local community and Algonquin communities are asking for a comprehensive archaeological assessment in the Spring and meaningful consultation before further cutting.  Instead, KNL/Urbandale commenced cutting on January 31, 2011, despite the requests of the Algonquins of Ontario (AoO), other self-identified Algonquin communities, and concerned Ottawa citizens.  To protest the cutting, two Algonquin warriors chained themselves to trees in the construction site to protect the Forest last Tuesday February 1, 2011.

Thousands of people are demanding that Mayor Watson or Provincial Minister of Culture and Tourism Michael Chan exert their power to halt the cutting.  Chan could issue a Ministerial order to halt the cutting, but so far has not responded to requests to do so.

According to Julie Comber, “the concerned community members in the Beaver Pond Forest this morning feel that all levels of government have failed us.  So we are protecting the Forest we love as best we can.  Those who walk in this forest understand it is special, that there is wonderful energy here.”  They want the clear-cutting to stop immediately so that a meaningful consultation about the Beaver Pond Forest and the entire South March Highlands can take place that includes all stakeholders.

“This issue is important to thousands of people,” stated Bob Lovelace, one of the two warriors who chained himself to a tree last Tuesday, “why can’t the City of Ottawa and the Province stop and think more carefully about this?”  The community believes that a positive resolution could be found if all stakeholders are brought to the table.

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Contact:
Steve Hulaj –613-878-1135
Julie Comber –613-263-5362
Daniel Cayley-Daoust:  613-875-5401 (French-speaking)

Background info:
www.ottawasgreatforest.com
www.southmarchhighlands.ca
www.ipsmo.org
www.twitter.com/#search?q=%23BeaverPond
www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46087029890

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