Indigenous Peoples and Colonialism in the History of Canada’s Capital

Tour Details

Because many Canadians are struggling to understand colonialism, this has been our most popular tour for the past few years.

Like other parts of North America, the Ottawa-Gatineau region was once acknowledged by colonial settlers to be Indigenous land. Through a unilateral and fraudulent ‘legal’ process, backed by the occasional use of force, colonial officials dispossessed the Algonquin of the territory that includes present-day Ottawa.

This tour examines contact between the Algonquin and settlers and subsequent battles over land use, ownership and control. The 250 year history of Algonquin resistance to settler occupation and ‘ownership’ provides the context for a consideration of the broader settler-colonial strategies of British and Canadian regimes.

Visiting a number of key sites in central Ottawa, the tour looks at key moments of Indigenous resistance to colonialism, and the evolving colonial strategy developed by London and Ottawa-based government officials. Included is a consideration of how Ottawa ‘remembers’ and forgets important events in the Indigenous-colonial relationship. Topics discussed include the following:

  • Tecumseh’s revolutionary pan-Indian alliance and the war of 1812;
  • How colonial officials dispossessed the Algonquin of the land now known as ‘Parliament Hill’;
  • The Metis Rebellion of 1885 and its suppression;
  • The Department of Indian Affairs and creation of the Residential School system;
  • The 1970s ‘Red Power’ movement;
  • Inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in Canada’s 1982 constitution;
  • The Algonquin land claim in Eastern Ontario that includes Ottawa and Parliament Hill;
  • Movements and protests like Idle-no-More, Free the Falls, Unsettling 150, and Cancel Canada Day; and
  • Prospects for joint struggle against the Siamese twins of colonialism and capitalism by a coalition of Indigenous peoples and anti-capitalists.

Those interested in learning more about the topics covered can consult the following sources:

  • Fractured Homeland: Federal Recognition and Algonquin Identity in Ontario, Bonita Lawrence, UBC Press, 2012
  • The Ancestors are Arranging Things: A Journey on the Algonkin Trail, Noreen Kruzich, Borealis Press, 2011
  • The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin on the Algonquin Land Claims Process, Lynn Gehl, Fernwood, 2014
  • Canada’s First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from the Earliest Times, Olive Dickason, Oxford University Press
  • Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, Arthur Manuel, Between the Lines 2015

Book Indigenous Tour

  • All tours are $35 (cash) payable at the end of the tour.
  • Tours must be booked at least 24 hours in advance. (You will receive confirmation of your booking.)
  • Tours proceed rain or shine and start from the amphitheatre at the corner of Mackenzie and Rideau/Wellington, next to Milestone’s restaurant (across the street from the Chateau Laurier). Google Maps.
Book Indigenous Tour

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