Chaudière Falls: Unceded Territory

Sacredness is present everywhere! The birds singing their welcoming songs for the early morning sun and the dew-covered berries of early summer know it. All things in the fertile fields of our grand valleys and stirring on the rocky landscape of distant hills confirm it simply by being alive. Only human beings are confused as to what sacredness really is!

strawberry dewOn May 15, 2015 I met with Jeff Westeinde at the Chaudière Falls. Our purpose there was to have a conversation about the future of a site, precious and sacred to many people, particularly so to the Algonquin on whose territory the Falls are located. Mr. Westeinde and I sat on a huge ancient timber, probably that of a pine, sprouted to life many hundreds of years ago when the spirit of the land was at peace. Near where we sat, a small patch of wild strawberry blossoms danced in the breeze.

The soil around the Falls is in a state of sickness because of pollution. Chemical pollutants, battery acid, and the devil knows what else have made it so. Mr. Westeinde spoke about the cost his company, Windmill Development Group, would incur ‘cleaning it up’. The land though, over a period of time, has the ability to do that on its own. The appearance of blossoms there a few weeks ago is proof of this. Mr. Westeinde’s plan is to get rid of things which pollute the earth at this sacred site, and after this is done, he would erect 12-storey-high condos on a purified space. To me it is like getting rid of one form of ugliness and replacing it with another. The only difference is that what will stand there after the land is free of poisons will not be so easy to get rid of. The condos I’m afraid, if indeed they are built, will be there for as long as the grass grows! What rests on sacred land should have something to do with spirituality, yes or no! Who will be living in the condos after they become ready for occupancy? Will the homeowners at the Chaudière Falls possess any spiritual beliefs at all? Will some of the site’s residents be people who harbour hatred towards and have total disrespect for the First Peoples? We have no idea!

The Chaudière Falls should be and can be a place where people can go to cleanse their souls through the power of ceremony and prayer. We live in a world where technology is slowly robbing us of our humanity. People need a healing place to feel refreshed and invigorated again, like birds after flying swiftly through heavy rain.

The sins and mistakes of men are many! The sacred sites where we can go to find peace and healing are far too few. Who would dare go to the birthplace of Christ in Bethlehem and propose the building of 12-storey high-rises a few meters away? Out of respect for Christian spirituality, no one would! Christ was born 2000 years ago, Christians need His presence in their lives. They would defend to the death anyone who would set out to kill their beliefs. The Falls – when did they originate? Who puts their life on the line to save them? I say to my descendants, never forget that I stood against the development proposed at our sacred site. Many more feel as I do. Put your objection in writing so that the next generations will know what you did.

I hear if often that this territory is unceded, never surrendered land. Someone needs to tell me: When did we surrender the most sacred site of our homeland? Giving the green light to development to me is like agreeing to something which will assure (allow me the privilege to a play of words) ‘short-term gain for long-term pain.’

In one form or another, we leave a legacy – a good, a bad or an ugly one. What will yours be?

All my relations,
Albert Dumont, South Wind

 

Chaudiere_before_dam

Chaudière Falls before 1908 dam

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7 Responses to Chaudière Falls: Unceded Territory

  1. Maureen Stark says:

    I am a member of a group of people from all cultures, faiths and origins who come together regularly to support Anishinabek Algonquin Grandfather William Commanda’s vision for the freeing of the Chaudière Waterfalls and to support the re-emergence of the Anishinabek Algonquin hosted international circle. please sign the petition to have the Chaudière Waterfalls freed and the Islands returned to their sacred purpose. Go to:
    http://www.freethefalls.ca
    may we all listen and be guided again by the healing sound of these waters.

    • Gita Baack says:

      Maureen Stark and Albert Dumont – your words are wise and strong and will hopefully guard against Windmill’s positive spin that hides another corporate, land grab aimed at filling the pockets of Windmill and those that stand to gain by colluding with them.

  2. Algonquin member says:

    Oh Albert Dumont, what a good story teller you are. And that’s the only thing your words areare, a bias lineage of story telling. For a man who claims you sat with Jeff, President of Windmill you so effortlessly choose to leave out all the documented specific facts Windmill has to follow One Planet Action and become 1 of only 10 completely green developments in the world! You mention that this site will no longer have a place for First Nations ppl. …are u serious? Again, you selectively choose to leave out the history making opportunity Zibi will have for the Algonquin Nation , as in the long term integration plans Windmill has for Algonquin ppl at all levels of the 15 year long project. To all the people out there who read this post and others similar, their are sooooo many more mind changing facts that Albert and other opposers/posers choose to conveniently leave out. I stand with the true Algonquin Nations that support Zibi, I stand in support of Windmill and Zibi and DeContie construction ( an Algonquin owned contracting comp. From an Algonquin Nation, yeah Albert and followers always seem to leave that history making fact out!)
    And I invite all opposers to Zibi to stop doing the norm and blindly follow a respected storytellers words and study the other side thoroughly first. ZIBI IS GOING TO CHANG HISTORY, BE APART OF IT OR BE APART OF THE PRO TESTING THAT NEVER GETS ANYWHERE

    • Julie Comber says:

      “Algonquin member”, the “mind changing” fact you have conveniently left out is that none of your arguments mean Windmill’s development has to happen on Chaudière and Albert Islands. All the benefits you state that Windmill has promised to Algonquin people could just as easily happen if the “Zibi” development was moved to a nearby location. If Windmill sincerely wishes to respect the sacredness of the islands and Falls and provide economic opportunities to Algonquins, it would move the development and keep its agreements to integrate Algonquin people into the project.

    • South Wind says:

      Dear Algonquin Member,

      Please don’t condemn me for trying to protect what I know is sacred to human beings. Neither should you judge me nor ridicule me. I only make a stand for what I believe in, for myself and for my descendants. What other people do is up to them. I certainly will never bash in any way, the decisions other Algonquins make in regards to their spiritual beliefs. I wish all Algonquins peace and prosperity.

      Albert Dumont

  3. DEBRA HURON says:

    It is heartening to understand the perspective that you put forward and to know that you are in support of a vision for these islands that preceded the condo plans by a company whose main goal is profit. Isn’t that the main goal of every company and corporation on the planet? I hear in your words, Albert, the desire for islands that are truly green. Let Windmill build its condos on the mainland of Gatineau! The infrastructure already exists to support thousands of people coming and going each day. Anyone who travels the Booth Street bridge knows that 1,200 condos on two tiny islands, along with offices, retail and a hotel will cause traffic chaos. I think the islands development that Ottawa’s Mayor and city council have lined up to support will sink the islands–in more ways than one!

  4. Pingback: Once Upon A Time | Albert Dumont

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