NEWS

Aboriginal protest over Gatineau dig site defies city notice

09/18/2014 08:52 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:58 EDT
An Aboriginal group occupying a portion of Jacques Cartier Boulevard in Gatineau, Que., in protest over infrastructure work at the site of a recent archaeological dig remains at the site, a day after a city deadline to vacate the area.

The group has sent up tents alongside huge concrete pipes near the intersection of Jacques Cartier and Saint-Antoine Street. The city is planning to install the pipes as part of $43 million in waterfront improvements along Jacques Cartier, near where the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers meet.

The site, however, had also been where an archaeological dig had discovered arrow heads and other evidence of a hunting site that dated back at least 3,000 years ago.

The company the city hired to do the dig finished work in July, and while it detailed the findings, it told the city nothing in the dig would be considered sacred. The dig was later filled in as part of the waterfront improvements, leading Aboriginal groups to occupy the area for the last 44 days.

Roger Fleury, one of the leaders of the protest, says the age and historic significance of what has already been found is enough reason to stop the development.

NCC intervention sought

"What is sacred to you? It's not up to me to say what is sacred to you," said Fleury. "You don't find [a site this old] at every corner. I taught history. I'd love to come and see a site like this."

Gatineau mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin has responded by presenting a plan to rehire the archaeological firm to continue looking for more artifacts and to allow a representative of the group to be present during excavations, provided the camp is dismantled.

On Tuesday the city sent the protest group a notice to leave the camp by Wednesday afternoon, but the group responded with a notice of its own in which they demanded the city alter the language of its notice to recognize the site's importance.

Police and the group have talked at the site, but those interactions have been cordial, said Fleury.

On Thursday Fleury said they would be going to the National Capital Commission later in the day to ask the federal landowner to intervene.

While the City of Gatineau has been in charge of the waterfront infrastructure project, the NCC has contributed money to the work.

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