For the Algonquin peoples, whose traditional territory encompasses the watershed of the Kichi Sibi (Ottawa River), the stretch of river behind the Global Centre for Pluralism is both sacred and a vital conduit. Marked by the confluence of three waterways — the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau Rivers — it was a major site of trade with other First Nations and, later, European settlers. The forests and waters of the Kichi Sibi, in addition to nourishing the Algonquins, hold great spiritual and cultural significance.
We recognize that some non-Indigenous readers may be challenged by some of the assertions, positions or language expressed in this report. At the Centre, we believe it is important to hear these views and respect how strongly they are held. We welcome discussion on these difficult issues and believe that engaging with what novelist Maaza Mengiste refers to as the “rough edges and complexities of our history” is critical to moving toward a more inclusive and pluralist future.
These findings will inform our own approach to acknowledging the land and help to guide how we engage in reconciliation in Canada and on issues of indigeneity and pluralism around the world. We hope the findings may also serve neighbouring institutions as they examine their own connections to Canada’s Indigenous history. If there is one connecting thread between First Nations and settler narratives of this site, it is the recognition of its power to connect.
We thank Archipel for adding much to our understanding of this site. We also thank Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont for the poetry and wisdom with which he introduces this work. We join him in hoping it inspires us to “work together, to build a city where all its citizens will live in peace and feel safe and feel confident that each citizen is being treated with respect and dignity.”
The views expressed in this report are the authors’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Global Centre for Pluralism or its Board of Directors.