The Peoples Social Forum which takes over the University of Ottawa campus from Thursday August 21st through to Sunday August 24th, features a number of workshops, films, meetings and other arts and culture events of interest to Ottawa history buffs.
Besides the two walking tours I am offering, (the Protest tour on Thursday at 11 AM starting at the giant spider (Maman statue) in front of the National Gallery, and the Rideau Canal tour on Friday at 9 AM starting from the same place), there are several others, including an Indigenous walking tour offered by Jaime Koebel. I participated in one of her tours (Indigenous walks) two months ago. She has some interesting things to say about the representation of indigenous peoples in this city.
Many of the issues my Protest tour examines are taken up in multiple workshops over the four day event: indigenous resistance to colonialism, gay and lesbian rights, the concerns of youth, Quebecois nationalism, environmental concerns, and others.
For example, sometimes my tour includes discussion about important public service strikes in Ottawa’s past. Key public service unions, like the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Public Service Alliance of Canada have sessions at the PSF (various days and times) related to their current battles with the government. Similarly, there is a session by a recently organized group of public service militants who advocate strike action against the Harper government (Saturday at 1 PM in Morisset 211). Attending one of those sessions may give you a chance to witness history in the making.
The key to Ottawa’s history is what the Algonquin people referred to as the ‘Great River’ and the Chaudiere Falls. The latter made this region a stopping point for travellers to and from the interior of North America. Recently, a property development company, Windmill, purchased the Domtar site on Chaudiere Island to create a new mixed residential-commercial project. The proposed project does not coincide with the long-stated desire of the Algonquin to make the islands a centre for new institutions devoted to peace, healing and learning. [www.asinabka.com/index.htm] A key figure in developing that vision, the famous Metis architect Douglas Cardinal, will speak on this issue Thursday morning at 9:00 AM in Fauteux 302.
These are just a few examples of the many PSF meetings and discussions of interest to those interested in the intersection of history and politics. Thousands of activists from all over Canada are travelling to Ottawa to participate. Don’t miss this event!