Algonquin men attempt to block clear-cutting of Beaver Pond Forest by
chaining themselves to trees.
On 1 February 2011, two Algonquin men, Robert Lovelace and
Daniel Bernard, chained themselves to trees in the Beaver Pond Forest near
Kanata, Ontario, to block a second day of clear-cut logging from destroying a
forest considered sacred by Algonquin First Nations.
Despite a constitutional obligation to consult Aboriginal
groups affected by development, only some Algonquin communities were consulted,
even though Grandfather William Commanda has identified the area as a sacred
place for the entire Algonquin Nation. A week before cutting began, Bernard lit a sacred fire at the
eastern entrance to the threatened area, creating a focal point for local
community members, Algonquin people and environmental activists. Over 150 people attended the day of
Prayer for the Land at the fire site on Sunday 30 January 2011.
The City of Ottawa has planned to build housing developments
in the forest area for many years, against significant community pressure. Clear-cutting is the first step in a
process of preparing the land for a new subdivision. Local residents value the Beaver Pond Forest as a recreational
area and because of its biodiversity; eighteen endangered and nineteen
near-endangered species make their home there.
The forest is also important for its archaeological record
as part of the earliest inhabited land in Eastern Ontario. The city granted its initial permission
to cut based on a developer-funded 2004 survey that Doctor Robert McGhee, past
president of the Canadian Archaeological Association, deemed ‘clearly
inadequate’ and ‘fatally flawed.’ Despite
indications that the Beaver Pond Forest contains artifacts dating back 10,000
years, a satisfactory archaeological survey has never been completed.
The clear-cutting began on 31 January prompting concerned
locals to join a protest at the site, and later a rally at Ottawa’s city hall
calling for the mayor to intervene. In response, the mayor issued a letter claiming those opposed
to the development presented no new information and therefore re-appraisal of
the development was not necessary.
Lovelace and Bernard entered the forest early on the morning
of Tuesday 1 February before the company hired to clear-cut began work for the
day, and chained themselves to threatened trees. The authorities called the police, and eventually both men
left the forest at 11:30 a.m.
It really is a political solution,” said Lovelace,
explaining to the assembled press that the mayor and council needed to consult adequately
and transparently all interested parties— not just the developers. “If they want a just and honourable
settlement and some reconciliation, then they have to open this process up. Include the Algonquins in the
discussion. Include the people who
The two then joined a rally at the Human Rights Monument in
Ottawa, once more calling for the city to halt the clear-cutting and fulfill
its constitutional duty to consult with Aboriginal peoples.
Facebook Group–“I want to save the land North of Beaver
Pond Park in Kanata Ottawa”
Peoples Television Network) report (Starts at 10 minutes) –
City Hall Rally – Bob Lovelace Speaks
City Hall Rally (3 mins)
City Hall Rally – Daniel 2
City Hall Rally – Recent History (7 mins)