Consultation & Consent
Engagement with the Algonquin Anishinabe began in 2013 and is ongoing.
We recognize that the Ottawa River Watershed has been the ancestral territory of the Indigenous peoples who form the Algonquin Nation today. The Kichissipi (Ottawa River) is an ancient trade and travel route through Algonquin territory, as are the shores, islands and portages along this route.
Windmill and Dream believe in doing development differently. Our proactive collaborative approach has been unlike any other development company in the region, and we are committed to improving the way Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous private sector companies work together.
Our engagement with the area’s Algonquin Anishinabe began before we bought the land and before any designs were conceived. Symbolically, the first meeting with stakeholders on the future Zibi site was with Algonquin leaders. And it was the first time, to our knowledge, that a private development company had invited Algonquin leadership to take part in a community building project in the National Capital region.
Although histories and relationships are complex, our efforts have resulted in support from Algonquin men and women, Chiefs, youth and Elders, businesspeople, entrepreneurs, workers, organizations, and more.
These efforts at engaging the Algonquin Anishinabe people – largely voluntary and not required by law – have been endorsed by bodies as diverse as, for example, the National Indigenous Council of Elders and the Ontario Municipal Board.
We believe this is the most inclusive and robust First Nations engagement program by a private real estate developer, certainly in Eastern Canada, and possibly in all of Canada.
Consultation and engagement efforts have been sincere, substantive, and meaningful.
We have met with Algonquin Anishinabe Elders, leaders, communities, Band Councils, social service providers, youth, women and men. We have attended Sharing Circles and presented to communities hours away in Ontario, and even further in remote parts of Quebec. We have talked with hundreds of Algonquin Anishinabe men and women throughout the territory and on both sides of the provincial border.
We have reached out to all of the Algonquin Anishinabe communities in both Ontario and Quebec, many of whom had never before participated in consultations related to the National Capital region.
The result is a collaborative benefits program – that continues to evolve as conversations advance – including investment and ownership that will create economic benefits for generations, entrepreneurial opportunities, jobs, and cultural celebration.
“This opportunity stood out to us as Windmill was the first private developer to ever reach out to the Algonquin communities and we believe their intent and commitment to be true and honest. We now have concrete proof that the partnership is delivering tangible and sustainable benefits for our People, with more to come.”
– Chief Kirby Whiteduck, Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, April 27, 2017
“Back home, we deal with a lot of mining companies, forestry companies. It takes a lot to get to a table just like this, to get an offer. Nobody does what Windmill and Dream have done.”
– Chief Wayne McKenzie, Algonquins of Timiskaming First Nation, April 27, 2017
Zibi's efforts have been consistent with the spirit of TRC and UNDRIP
“I’m seeing our partnership with Zibi result in jobs and benefits for Algonquin Anishinabe right in the heart of our ancestral territory. This is our people, exercising our right to self determination [as enshrined in Article 3 of UNDRIP], and taking steps to close the economic gap.”
– Andy Decontie, President of Decontie Construction, April 27, 2017
Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC, 2015) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP, adopted by Canada in May 2016) call for developers to obtain the free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) of the First Nations whose territory would be impacted by a development project. These principles create an important new challenge and, even though Zibi was launched well before these concepts were adopted, we support the principle. First Nations and Canadian governments and business are rushing to address these important ideas for the first time, and there is not yet any consensus on how to make it real.
We are told that the spirit of FPIC is one of collaborative consent (elaborated on by former Grand Chief Fontaine’s 2015 report to the Trudeau government). It requires developers and First Nations both to work reasonably and with an open mind toward mutual consent. It does not require that consent be given, of course, but it does implicitly require reasonable and fair-minded exploration of what is possible, by all parties.
We have been working hard and sincerely to obtain the free, prior, and informed consent of the Algonquin Nation(s), and are currently in active discussions to further extensive collaborative agreements with a number of Algonquin First Nation communities. To date, we have signed Letters of Intent with the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, the Algonquins of Ontario, Long Point First Nation, and Timiskaming First Nation, and are working on finalizing agreements with these communities.
Zibi's efforts since 2013 are beginning to catalyze change.
Windmill and Dream’s efforts at Zibi have been recognized and lauded by First Nations leaders and the decision-making bodies involved in our development.
“…we praise the relationship – and friendships – that have formed between First Nations
and non-First Nations as a result of Zibi…”
– Ernie Daniels, Vice President, National Indigenous Council of Elders (N.I.C.E.) September 29, 2015
“The Zibi project is a pillar upon which the Algonquin Nation is uniting across provincial boundaries… Seeing Algonquin Anishinabe workers on this site, cleaning up the contaminated soil, naturalizing the river banks and improving the River is proof to me that this partnership is real and that Zibi will deliver the economic, cultural and environmental benefits set out in our Letter of Intent.”
– Chief Wayne McKenzie, Timiskaming First Nation, April 27, 2017
“…the City and the proponent have both consulted and engaged with the First Nations… aboriginal history and culture will be respected and incorporated into the proposed development plans.”
– Ontario Municipal Board, November 17, 2015
Our efforts since 2013 are beginning to catalyze change, however there is much left that we want to do. Unfortunately, some communities that have taken a position against Zibi have so far refused to engage in dialogue toward collaborative consent, as described in FPIC (Free, Prior and Informed Consent) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We have expressed, and continue to express, our willingness to discuss any terms, any benefits, any subject, any concession. We would attend any meeting, anywhere, anytime, on any agenda.
We have not given up, and we remain hopeful of their collaboration and open minds. We are encouraged by recent progress with two additional Algonquin Anishinabe communities who announced that they had joined the partnership with Windmill and Dream: Long Point and Timiskaming First Nations both signed Letters of Intent (LOI) with Zibi in April 2017. These LOIs outline how Zibi will help create opportunities in the region for their members, raise awareness about their people and culture in Canada’s capital region, and build stronger connections back to their communities in Quebec.
Most AFN Chiefs don’t oppose Zibi.
It is true that at its Special Chiefs Assembly in December 2015, the Assembly of First Nations passed a resolution to oppose the Zibi project. While this national First Nations advocacy organization represents 634 communities and Chiefs, it is even more important to note that of more than 200 Chiefs eligible to vote that day, only 12 gave their support to the motion; the rest either abstained or opposed it. All of the other 36 motions that day, with one exception, were carried by a consensus of the Chiefs. In September 2015, Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde took this position in the press: The disagreement over the development is something that should be resolved among the Algonquin people. “This is Algonquin territory, we have to respect that. As a national chief, I am careful not to choose sides.” Source
“AFN chief praises ‘relationship-building’ between Zibi developers, First Nations. Perry Bellegarde says the $1.2-billion development on unceded Algonquin territory is a positive example of “relationship-building”.”
– Metro Ottawa News, September 10, 2015 (Source)
It is offensive and ironic to suggest that Zibi has “purchased” support.
Insinuations have been made that Zibi has bought the support we find in the Algonquin community with tokens and bribes. To the proud Algonquin men, women, and Chiefs that support Zibi as an opportunity to advance the economic and cultural interests of their communities, this is condescending and offensive. Moreover, it is ironic that those critics that argue for fair negotiations and partnership would criticize the concessions demanded and won in those very negotiations.
Zibi is intended to act as a catalyst to highlight and celebrate Algonquin Anishinabe history, culture and people in the National Capital Region. Through arts, heritage, jobs, training, youth mentorships, and the formal recognition that this site and the region is on unceded Algonquin territory, Zibi will be a meaningful and authentic manifestation of the Algonquin Nation in the heart of the nation’s capital.