Algonquins of Ontario

August 13, 2013

Kent Kirkpatrick City Manager City of Ottawa 110 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1


Dear Mr. Kirkpatrick, Subject: Renaming of the Algonquin – Themed Ottawa Light Rail LeBreton Station (Our File CP 96-1-5)

Since the early inception of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit (OLRT) project (now known as the Confederation Line) the City of Ottawa has continued to embrace the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the art, culture and heritage of the Algonquins through the planning, design and building of the LeBreton Transit Station as an “Algonquin-centred” station. The location of this station is of particular significance to the Algonquins as it is in close proximity to Chaudière Falls and Victoria Island, both of which are sacred gathering places for the Algonquins since time immemorial. At the most recent Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) Elders Circle, held in Pembroke on April 12, 2013, Elders voiced unanimous support for the renaming of LeBreton Transit Station to an Algonquin name. The renaming of the Transit Station was seen to be a logical next step given the Algonquin-centred station design elements as well as the future installations of both integrated and non-integrated Algonquin art. The renaming would also be another step forward in our journey to bring visibility to the Algonquins and their language. The concept of such a name change was echoed by the Algonquin Negotiation Representatives at follow up meetings. The AOO appreciate the willingness and the support of the City of Ottawa to bring this idea to fruition. In early July 2013, to facilitate discussions with Algonquin communities the AOO created an outreach entitled Algonquin Naming Opportunities – Seeking Your Ideas! This outreach was provided to the Algonquin Negotiation Representatives for circulation amongst
31 Riverside Drive, Suite 101, Pembroke, Ontario K8A 8R6 Telephone: (613) 735-3759 Fax: (613) 735-6307 Website: E-Mail:


their respective communities as they saw fit. This outreach was also posted on our Tanakiwin website under the heading “Algonquin Presence in the Ottawa Valley.” A copy of this outreach is attached. Chief Kirby Whiteduck of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation also reached out to Chief Gilbert Whiteduck of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg to further explore the interest of their Council in sharing any ideas for the renaming of LeBreton Station. The AOO also raised the profile of this renaming opportunity at the most recent Nation Gathering hosted by the Algonquin communities of Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini (Bancroft) and Whitney and Area in Bancroft on July 27, 2013. As part of this effort, the AOO Consultation Office worked with the Deputy City Manager's Office (Planning & Infrastructure) to develop display materials that would raise the awareness of this project, including architectural renderings of LeBreton Station from different angles as well as an aerial photograph of the location of the station and its proximity to Chaudière Falls and Victoria Island. On Friday, August 2, 2013, following a fulsome conversation of the various suggestions that were submitted for consideration, the Algonquin Negotiation Representatives reached consensus. On behalf of the Algonquins of Ontario we are pleased to recommend that the LeBreton Transit Station be renamed Pimisi Transit Station. Pimisi means “eel” in the language of the Algonquin people. Pimisi is considered sacred to the Algonquin people. Pimisi is the prayer carrier of the waters, travelling far through salt water and fresh and, according to Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK), over wetlands (Katherine Cannon, Algonquin Negotiation Representative and Chief of Algonquin Nation Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini pers. comm. September 23, 2011). ATK is the understanding of the interconnectedness of life, land and spirit. ATK is the complex and unique knowledge held by Aboriginal people as they have lived in their respective territories with all of its creatures since time immemorial. The significant value of including ATK in the resolution of environmental issues has become increasingly apparent as ATK complements scientific research and thus allows for a greater understanding of the state of Mother Earth. The American Eel of the Ottawa River is referred to as Kichisippi Pimisi, Kichisippi meaning ‘big river’ (Kirby Whiteduck, First Nation Algonquin Negotiation Representative and Chief of Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn pers. comm. October 18, 2011) and it is the original name given to the Ottawa River by the Algonquins and Pimisi being the Algonquin name for eel. Algonquin traditions and culture have been shaped by our relationship to our land and the life within it. Algonquins have always had a deep connection to Pimisi – as a provider of nourishment, medicine and spiritual inspiration. Pimisi has been hunted and consumed by Algonquins in the Ottawa Valley in a sustainable way for over 4000 years (Whiteduck 2002, Allen 2007). Its importance as a food source to the newcomers is also well documented and the eel was used for trade with settlers or given as a gift (K. Whiteduck pers. comm. October 18, 2011).


Records from early Jesuits, as far back as 1642, comment on how the eel was found in “prodigious abundance” and describe how both the Algonquins and the French prepared eel and fish for winter (Whiteduck 2002). The eel provided many non-food uses such as medicines and its skin had a range of uses, from medicine bags to bandages for sores and broken bones. The lining of the bladder was used in making paint. Pimisi bones were formed into tools such as needles and arrowheads and some parts of the eel were used for sacred ceremonies (K. Cannon pers. comm. September 23, 2011). Algonquins have also identified with the adaptability of the eel – as they too were skilled at adapting to changing environments and conditions – a necessity for living closely with Mother Earth. Elder Dr. William Commanda states in A Circle of All Nations Note titled Manoshkadosh: The American Eel: “I believe that Eel spirit is intrinsic to the Sacred Seven Fire Prophecy Wampum Belt. This unique and mysterious ancient creature was of tremendous significance to the original peoples of the eastern coast of North America, and in the stories of my ancestors, it was plentiful beyond imagination; the Eel was of great spiritual, nutritional and material importance to the people from time immemorial.” (Elder Dr. W. Commanda undated) Pimisi, in essence, connects all of Mother Earth (Katherine Cannon, Algonquin Negotiation Representative and Chief of Algonquin Nation Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini pers. comm. September 23, 2011). Kichisippi Pimisi is an ancient fish which was abundant in the Ottawa River basin for millennia, making up approximately 50% of the total freshwater biomass prior to the 1900s. For thousands of years Pimisi travelled up and down the Ottawa River unimpeded. In the past century this has changed: Kichisippi Pimisi is now rarely seen and since 2007 is listed as Endangered under the Ontario Species at Risk program. But, there is hope. In August 2012, within the heart of the City, eels were observed at the Fleet Street pumping station (see Attachment 3). The Algonquins of Ontario are now in our second year of working collaboratively with the Canadian Wildlife Federation, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Arnprior Fish and Game Club to build on the knowledge gained in previous study years and to assist in the development of strategies for American eel recovery in the Ottawa River. The Algonquins of Ontario are also forging relationships with waterpower operators, including Energy Ottawa, to enhance protection and recovery efforts for the American Eel. Concluding Remarks The renaming of LeBreton Transit Station to Pimisi Transit Station is much more than a symbolic gesture to honour its once plentiful presence within the Ottawa River or to serve as a


footnote to its once extraordinary migration up and down Chaudière Falls. Rather the renaming to Pimisi Transit Station will draw public awareness and strengthen the call for action – to ensure the survival of the species. It is not lost on the Algonquin people that the survival of Pimisi is also an apt metaphor for the survival and rebuilding of the Algonquin Nation. To ensure that this important message is conveyed powerfully, the Algonquins of Ontario request the inclusion of appropriate interpretative signage within the Pimisi Transit Station. We also encourage the City to explore opportunities to implement interactive multimedia applications to provide context for the naming of the Pimisi Transit Station and for the many other Algonquin elements within the design of the Transit Station. multimedia approach at the Pimisi Transit Station will strengthen the articulation of the Algonquin story and build on the current efforts that are being implemented through the Lansdowne Park Revitalization Project, the redevelopment of Rockcliffe Park with Canada Lands Corporation as well as the Rideau Canal Promenade project – an initiative involving the National Capital Commission, Parks Canada, the City of Ottawa, and the Algonquins of Ontario. Thank you once again for the concerted efforts of the City of Ottawa to recognize and celebrate Algonquin art, culture and history in this exciting project. Sincerely,

Janet Stavinga Executive Director Algonquin Naming Opportunities – Seeking Your Ideas! Image of the American Eel, created by Tony Amikons, Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, for the Algonquins of Ontario report entitled Returning Kichisippi Pimisi – the American Eel – to the Ottawa River Basin Endangered eels discovered at Fleet Street pumping station, Ottawa Citizen, August 3, 2012 pg B1

Attach 1: Attach 2:

Attach 3:


Algonquin Negotiation Representatives Robert Potts, Principal Negotiator – AOO Jim Hunton, Vice-President, Jp2g Consultants Inc. Technical Advisor – AOO Nancy Schepers, Deputy City Manager, Planning and Infrastructure, City of Ottawa John Manconi, General Manager, Transit Services Department, City of Ottawa Bill Holmes, Manager, Transit Projects, Transit Services Department, City of Ottawa


References Algonquins of Ontario. December 2012. Returning Kichisippi Pimisi – the American Eel – to the Ottawa River Basin. Allen, William A. Heritage One. Written communication November 24, 2011 and February 7, 2012. Cannon, Katherine. Algonquin Negotiation Representative and Chief of Algonquin Nation Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini. Telephone interview September 23, 2011. McDermott, Larry. Plenty Canada Executive Director. Written communication November 25, 2011 and February 7 & 13, 2012. MacGregor, Robert. American Eel Recovery Team. Written communication November 24, 2011. Whiteduck, Kirby. First Nation Algonquin Negotiation Representative and Chief of Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn. Telephone interview October 18, 2011. Allen, William A. 2007. Kichisippi Pimizi, Ottawa River’s American eel (Anguilla rostrata): A Depleted Species in a Degraded Watershed. Commanda, Dr. William. Undated. Manoshkadosh: The American Eel. A Circle of All Nations Note. Plenty Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Aboriginal Engagement Conference. 2008. Aboriginal Peoples’ American Eel Resolution. Whiteduck, Kirby J. 2002. Algonquin Traditional Culture.

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