Victoria Island is Algonquin Territory.
Keepers of the Land
Makonsag Aboriginal Head Start aspires to become the Keepers of the Land of 150 Middle Street on Victoria Island. Makonsag shares a vision with the diverse Ottawa Aboriginal community to use the ancestral land for our children – so that they may grow up where we have learned, shared and celebrated for 1000’s of years.
The building at 150 Middle Street is a federally designated heritage building owned and managed by the National Capital Commission (NCC). In response to NCC’s public call for proposals to lease the building, Makonsag proposes to become long-term custodians and protectors of the building on behalf of the Aboriginal community in exchange for its use as an Aboriginal Children’s Centre, for as long as we have support from the Traditional Keepers of the Land.
Grandfather William Commanda
Makonsag Aboriginal Head Start shares in the vision of the late Grandfather William Commanda, hereditary chief and spiritual leader of the Algonquin Nation, Officer of the Order of Canada, and recipient of the key to the City of Ottawa, who believed that respect, justice and harmony could be achieved among people of all nations and who vowed to preserve the sacred space on Victoria Island.
Makonsag proposes to revitalize 150 Middle Street into an Aboriginal Children’s Centre to:
- Establish a highly visible site in Canada’s capital for promoting the foundations of Aboriginal education.
- Create a vibrant children’s cultural centre for Ottawa’s Aboriginal community, estimated to include over 40,000 people.
- Help to revitalize the ancient heritage of Victoria Island as a sacred meeting place among nations while preserving the recent heritage of the Bronson Company (1880’s).
Makonsag recognizes the heritage designation of 150 Middle Street and proposes to protect and maintain the building as one of Canada’s national treasures. Makonsag also recognizes that the land on which the building stands is Algonquin territory. As Keepers of the Land, Makonsag vows to restore nature to the land as a place for children to play and to revive its ancient history as a spiritual and cultural hub for all nations to learn, share and celebrate.
Due to the complex proprietorship of 150 Middle Street, the traditional western business model for property leasing is not an appropriate strategic approach for Makonsag to pursue its vision for the site. Makonsag proposes the following alternative business model to restore, maintain and operate in the heritage building at 150 Middle Street while recognizing and respecting its position on Algonquin land:
- Makonsag delivers an annual gift of sacred tobacco to the Chief and Council of each Algonquin community that shares ancestral governance over Victoria Island;
- Makonsag leases the property from NCC for $1 per year;
- Makonsag uses its community presence as an Aboriginal Children’s program to leverage funds for restoration and leaseholder improvements and establishes an endowment fund to cover the costs of maintaining and operating a heritage property.
Under this business model, NCC is absolved of all costs for restoring, maintaining and operating a heritage property while benefiting from Makonsag’s capital investment in an NCC asset. Makonsag will assume full financial responsibility for operating and protecting the property.