Quebec Algonquins meet with NCC in fight against Zibi

Seven Algonquin nation chiefs from west Quebec met with the National Capital Commission on Friday in continuing discussions about the controversial Zibi development.
Harry St. Denis is the Chief of Wolf Lake Algonquin Nation in west Quebec. (CBC)

Seven Algonquin nation chiefs from west Quebec met with the National Capital Commission on Friday in continuing discussions about the controversial Zibi development.

Windmill developments is planning retail, commercial and residential buildings on the land formerly used by Domtar that strides the Ottawa River between downtown Ottawa and Gatineau.

The development includes Chaudière and Albert Islands, both of which are considered sacred to the Algonquin people.

Harry St. Denis, Chief of the Wolf Lake First Nation in west Quebec, has long argued that the nine Quebec Algonquin nations would prefer the islands to become home to a cultural park and commemoration site, controlled by an Algonquin institution.

"Our position is that all those lands are encumbered by aboriginal title of the Algonquin nation," said St.Denis.

Yet the Algonquins of Ontario, and organization that includes several Algonquin communities in Ontario, has supported Windmill's Zibi development.

St. Denis said Algonquins from the upper Ottawa River valley also historically travelled the river, stopping at Chaudière Falls for spiritual purposes and thus also have claim to the territory.

NCC say meeting 'productive'

Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the NCC. (NCC)
The National Capital Commission has been listening to St. Denis and the other Quebec chiefs. Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the NCC, said Friday's meeting was productive.

"We heard some pretty clear messages from them and we're going to go away and consult with the different parties and we'll come again for the next meeting," said Kristmanson. "I thought it was a pretty productive meeting because we were able to get, through information sharing, into actual discussion, the merits of the case."

St. Denis said it's just a start, adding it's unclear if the NCC has the authority and mandate to carry out any formal discussions about property rights.

"My position is that there haven't been any formal discussions yet. Until we find out for sure if they do have a mandate and from whom. Then we'll see how things unfold from there," said St. Denis.

An artist's rendering of Albert Island, part of Ottawa's proposed Zibi development. (Build Green Solutions)