Momentum builds as two more Algonquin communities sign Letters of Intent, affirm they are open for business
Gatineau, April 27, 2017 – Algonquin-owned Decontie Construction Inc., from the community of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg (KZA), started rolling in its trucks and excavators onto the Zibi property earlier this month to begin the extensive process of preparing the site for construction.
This is the culmination of a two-year initiative by Decontie and developers Windmill Development and Dream Unlimited to overcome systemic labour barriers, build capacity and hire First Nation workers for Zibi, a $1.2B redevelopment project to transform a contaminated industrial parcel into the world’s most sustainable mixed-use community.
The construction start is an important project milestone and proof that this partnership – unprecedented in this part of Canada – between private developers and First Nations companies, communities and people is delivering benefits.
Eighteen months ago, Decontie Construction and the development team began the process to build capacity by helping indigenous workers obtain the necessary training, permits and licensing to work at Zibi. A call-out for indigenous workers interested in being added to a list of available construction workers yielded over 250 names.
First Nation workers are onsite because of Windmill, Dream and Decontie’s unwavering determination to surmount multiple barriers, and the willingness of the Commission de Construction du Québec (CCQ), and the municipal, provincial and federal governments to change the status quo and to support First Nations’ right to self-determination. Discussions are ongoing with all levels of government — in Quebec and Ontario — to help train and hire more First Nation workers, and to ensure that the Algonquin Anishinabe culture is represented throughout the future community.
Long Point and Timiskaming Algonquin First Nations sign Letters of Intent with Zibi to benefit their communities
Momentum is building as two additional Algonquin Anishinabe communities announced that they are joining the partnership with Windmill and Dream Unlimited: Long Point and Timiskaming First Nations both signed separate Letters of Intent (LOI) last week outlining how Zibi will 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. They join Pikwàkanagàn First Nation and the Algonquins of Ontario as signatories of LOIs with the Zibi community.
Zibi is a 37-acre development located on the downtown Gatineau riverfront as well as on Ottawa’s Albert and Chaudière Islands. The areas along the Ottawa River are significant in the history of the region’s First Nations, and Windmill/Dream have made concerted efforts to collaborate with and provide tangible benefits to local Algonquin Anishinabe people and communities.
Benefits to the Algonquins and First Nations, however, extend far beyond jobs and labour. 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.
Andy Decontie, President, Decontie Construction: “My vision when I launched Decontie was to create opportunities for my community and my people. In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, my family and members of my community were forced to leave Canada to find work in the United States. But today, 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, and taking steps to close the economic gap.”
Chief Kirby Whiteduck, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation: “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 Wayne McKenzie, Timiskaming First Nation: “The Zibi project is a pillar upon which the Algonquin Nation is uniting across provincial boundaries, and an assertion that Timiskaming, Long Point and Pikwàkanagàn First Nations are open for business. 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.”
Jeff Westeinde, Chairman, Windmill Developments: “Since the beginning of this project in 2013, we’ve been committed to making Zibi a model of collaboration with First Nations in our region. Today is proof that that collaboration is delivering the benefits it promised. And with the communities of Long Point and Timiskaming now on board, we are gaining momentum for a tangible and beneficial Algonquin presence in the National Capital Region. We continue to extend an open invitation to all Algonquin communities to join us.”
Daniel Marinovic, SVP, Dream: “Dream is honoured to be a part of this significant and transformative redevelopment of our nation’s capital that also serves as a model for partnering with First Nations communities. We feel privileged to be involved in a project of this scale that will also create meaningful and inclusive employment opportunities for First Nations and honour Algonquin Anishinabe history and culture.”