Jaime Koebel shares a creative vision for the Chaudière Falls site
July 23, 2015
Chris White of CKCU, one of Ottawa’s independent radio stations, interviewed Métis artist, dancer, and activist Jaime Koebel about the unqiue Indigenous Walks she hosts in Ottawa’s downtown core and about her views on an Indigenous vision for Chaudière Falls and the islands in the Ottawa River.
Here is an excerpt from the interview.
Jaime Koebel: That was really an important place for many people, not just for Anishinaabe but for many nations that came to this area. So having it used that way is important to continue. It’s the land. It still exists.
It has quite a complicated history and I know that people can find that easily online, but I wanted to get back to some of the issues with Windmill Development and turning it into what they describe as environmentally friendly space that is going to be acceptable to people of Ottawa, that’s going to have some social housing aspects to it, that’s going to hire Anishinaabeg people, which on the surface are all really good things, but you know in digging a bit deeper, we know that there are only certain Anishinaabeg people who will benefit from those things. And really, we haven’t had a chance to see what it’s like to go back to that time when we could use that as the sacred space it was, and that it was meant to be.
It’s really hard for people when they see these attractive things, these shiny objects, with jobs and housing and it makes it look like we are curing some of the social ills that Indigenous people face, but it’s almost the same as starving out Cree from the Prairies in order to get them on reserves…
What I do is I talk about Chaudière Falls and the traditional uses of that land.
Chris White: What is your own personal view about what should be going on with that land?
I would include having some time to figure out what is the potential—the absolute potential that can happen there without digging deeply into the bedrock or the foundation of that area. And, really, if Indigenous people could do anything we wanted, not based on other people’s visions of making money with condos, but if we could do anything we wanted, what would that look like? So, that’s the kind of visioning that I’d like to see happen.
There is some visioning that already exists, which is coming from William Commanda and which is supported by Douglas Cardinal, the main architect of the Museum of History…and those architectural plans have laid the momentum… If we could figure out a research plan about what happened there before any development happened there at all, the stories around people who used that place…
Chris White: That sounds so sensible. I really hope that happens. And of course we are talking about unceded lands…which means it was never given away to anybody by anybody. So let’s hope that vision you’ve talked about comes to pass. I am hoping that it’s still possible
Jaime Koebel: And if I could add, one thing I learned from my teachings, coming from Lac La Biche in northern Alberta is that the land is mother earth, the land is our land. And it doesn’t matter if I am from northern Alberta…we are the same people whether we are from Alberta or from the Ottawa area and working to help preserve Kitchissippi and Chaudière Falls.
I know there is some support of some Anishinaabeg for Windmill Development but I also know there’s a lot support for the Falls themselves and their original vision, and so even though I’m not Anishinaabeg from this land, I think it’s important for all people who have this connection to the land to really stand up for the land. These are our teachings. We shouldn’t let jobs and social housing get in the way of that. It is our essential connection and that’s what we’re here for, as Indigenous people, to protect the land.
To hear CKCU’s entire interview with Jaime from July 10, 2015, begin at about 12:30 on the audio file. The interview continues until the counter reaches 30:00 minutes.