Ottawa

Quebec Algonquins file title claim to downtown Ottawa

In a move to block a treaty between the Algonquins of Ontario and the federal and Ontario governments, a group of Quebec Algonquins have filed an Aboriginal title claim for lands in downtown Ottawa, including Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court of Canada and Lebreton Flats.

Move comes after Ontario Algonquins signed agreement-in-principle worth estimated $300M

An Algonquin first nation in Quebec has filed an Aboriginal title claim for lands in downtown Ottawa, including Parliament Hill. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

In a move to block a treaty between the Algonquins of Ontario and the federal and Ontario governments, a group of Quebec Algonquins have filed an Aboriginal title claim for lands in downtown Ottawa, including Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court of Canada and Lebreton Flats.

The statement of claim, filed in Ontario Superior Court on Wednesday, says the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation — which encompasses several Quebec Algonquin communities — historically occupied the islands and land near the Ottawa River.

"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, Que.

The move comes less than two months after the Algonquins of Ontario signed an agreement-in principle with the federal and Ontario governments that will eventually see roughly 36,000 square kilometres of land, including parts of the Ottawa Valley, signed over to the Indigenous people as part of a modern treaty.

Chief Jean-Guy Whiteduck says the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation felt it had 'no choice' but to file the title claim. (CBC)

'Sell their soul to the devil'

But a group of Algonquins in Quebec do not agree with that deal.

Whiteduck said they weren't consulted, and believes Ontario Algonquins sold "their soul."

The deal is estimated to be worth more than $300 million.

"I guess because anyone who wants to sell their soul to the devil for a handful of peanuts, people are willing to listen to them, I guess," said Whiteduck. "Because we're not willing to do that.

"We're saying this is our land, we want to be partners in it, but we don't want to sell our soul to become a partner. A settlement like they're suggesting on the Ontario side is totally not acceptable to the Algonquins in Quebec," said Whiteduck.

"So we found no other choice but to take legal action … We chose those sites because of their importance."

The statement of claim names the National Capital Commission, the Attorney General of Canada and Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General as defendants.

Chaudière, Albert and Victoria Islands also named

The claim includes Lebreton Flats, where a consortium headed by the Ottawa Senators won the right to negotiate with the NCC to develop the land in the hopes of building a new downtown arena. 

"If there is going to be developments, clearly on Lebreton Flats and other areas, we say, 'Look it, we have to be partners, and there has to be benefits to our nations,'" Whiteduck told CBC News.

"We're not against any sound, environmentally-friendly, development. And we're not about to displace anyone, that's not our intention. We're just saying that the land belongs to us, there has to be real consultation with us."

The Chaudière, Albert and Victoria Islands are also named in the claim, along with the lands where Library and Archives Canada sits. 

CBC News sought comment from the lawyer representing the Algonquins of Ontario, but he said he could not immediately comment.