Honouring Unceded Algonquin Lands in Ottawa

When putting together the Ottawa Urban Nature Bucket List in 2017 and working on some other posts, I recalled how important it is to acknowledge that we are on unceded Algonquin lands. There are many opportunities to support and work on allyship with First Nation’s and for myself, in terms of this blog, where I (as a white settler) want to help urban people with nature connections, I feel it is extremely important to acknowledge that this is my heritage.  We can all learn so much from our First Nation communities as their culture is so integral with their connection to Mother Earth and Nature and I look forward to exploring opportunities to expand my knowledge through what they share.  This list was first compiled in 2017 but it has been updated for 2018:

Support the Mother Earth Water Walk in Toronto.

From the website: "Starting in 2003, two Anishinawbe Grandmothers, and a group of Anishinawbe Women and Men have taken action regarding the water issue by walking the perimeter of the Great Lakes.   Several women from different clans came together to raise awareness that our clean and clear water is being polluted by chemicals, vehicle emissions, motor boats, sewage disposal, agricultural pollution, leaking landfill sites, and residential usage is taking a toll on our water quality. Water is precious and sacred…it is one of the basic elements needed for all life to exist."

While Ottawa is not one of the locations that the walk will pass, there are many ways to support the walk, by raising the profile, sharing the 2017 dates and learning about the walk and supporting with donations (2017 pamphlet with all details including protocol and how to support the walk).  And there are other Great Lakes Water events including Greatness: Great Lakes Student Rally which will be held on May 25, 2017 and will culminate in a Toronto Waterfront Walk with a Special Blessing on September 24th led by Anishinaabek Elder Josephine Mandamin.

In 2018 if you are in Toronto you can participate in the Niigaani-gichigami Gratitude Walk hosted by the Toronto Urban Native Ministry, St James Cathedral and Niigaani-gichigami Water Festival (Facebook page).

Join in a Culture Night at Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health.

From the website: Offered every Monday night from 5:30 - 8:00 pm, "Culture Night is open to everyone interested in learning more about First Nations, Inuit and Metis culture.  Families are able to take part in a variety of cultural activities including family drum circle, traditional teachings, Aboriginal crafts and more."  During the summer months this event is offered outdoors.

Take an Indigenous Walk with Jaime Koebel (public, group & private available) - wheelchair & stroller accessible.

From the website: "Indigenous Walks is a walk and talk through downtown Ottawa bringing awareness about social, political and cultural issues while exploring monuments, landscape, architecture and art through an Indigenous perspective." 

Attend an Aboriginal Experience on Victoria Island - open May 1 to October 31 for groups of 25 or more.

From Ottawa Tourism website: "Aboriginal Experiences offers visitors a unique look at First Nations’ culture in a native village, including traditional native cuisine, powwow dance performances, guided tours, and craft workshops. Programs offer a rare opportunity to experience the rich culture, teachings and history of Canada's First People from their perspective. Authentic, hand-crafted souvenirs and gifts available on site at this native village located on beautiful Victoria Island in the shadows of Parliament Hill." 

***For 2018, programming on Victoria Island will be offered to the public - more information will be available at the Aboriginal Experience website with dates soon.

Experience a Blanket Exercise with Kairos on Parliament Hill.

From the website: "The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is an interactive learning experience that teaches the Indigenous rights history we’re rarely taught. Developed in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples—which recommended education on Canadian-Indigenous history as one of the key steps to reconciliation, the Blanket Exercise covers over 500 years of history in a one and a half hour participatory workshop."

*There is no Mass Blanket Exercise on Parliament Hill with Kairos in 2018 but learn more about the Blanket Exercise at their website.

Celebrate the Summer Solstice at the Aboriginal Arts Festival at Vincent Massey Park (June 21 - 24, 2018).

From the website: "The Summer Solstice Indigenous Arts Festival is an event that truly represents the cultural diversity of our urban Aboriginal community, with full participation of First Nations, M├ętis and Inuit artists. This diversity within our own cultures is reflected in all elements of the event, from leadership (National Aboriginal Day Committee of National Aboriginal Organizations), to the selection of artists, representing each of the Aboriginal communities." 

Buy a ticket for the Igniting the Spirit Gala at Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health.

From the website: "Come have a Trickster of an evening as Wabano celebrates National Aboriginal Day. Explore the Indigenous stories that shape our country. Enjoy a spectacular evening of silent and live auctions, raffles and cultural performances."

The 2018 Igniting the Spirit Gala is sold out!  But you can participate in other events hosted by Wabano.

Attend an event during National Indigenous History Month in June.  

Check out the Aboriginal Events Ottawa Facebook page, or see what public events Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, Odawa Native Friendship Centre or Minwaashin Lodge are offering.

The Canadian Museum of History and The Ottawa Public Library also offer activities and events in this month in partnership with local aboriginal communities.  These activities in 2018 include: the Twin Flames concert at the Main Branch of the Library on June 16th and "Awesome Indigenous Art" on June 17th at the Museum of History.

Learn more about local First Nation's History & Culture:

Algonquins of Ontario website: "Our Proud History" (please note that Canadian provincial boundaries are not the same boundaries for First Nation tribes - some may include peoples in both provinces)

"Canada's Only Urban Native Attraction Has A Vision," Hans Tammemagi, November 20, 2012, Indian Country Today

"A Users Guide to the the islands, the falls, Zibi and the Windmill development," Elizabeth Paine, August 24, 2015, Ottawa Citizen

These events that are listed above are only one small step that those of us who are settlers can take.  It is up to us to educate ourselves on the experiences of the First Nations and to be patient, understanding and compassionate in regards to the First Nation's experiences.  We need to be sensitive to their needs and always ask how to help with reconciliation efforts, rather than assume we already know.  As much as you can, reach out, become an ally, build a relationship and donate generously with your time and your money to these communities and organizations.

What other Aboriginal and Indigenous events and activities are being offered in Ottawa?  

Please share them below!

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