Imagine a sacred site like no other in the heart of Canada's capital | Unpublished

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Unpublished Opinions

James OGrady's picture
Ottawa, Ontario
About the author

I am the founder of Unpublished Media Inc., a company I started in 2012. I am also a communications professional and community activist, living in Nepean, Ontario. And, I am a hockey goaltender, political hack and most importantly, an advocate for grassroots, participatory democracy at all levels of government.

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Imagine a sacred site like no other in the heart of Canada's capital

June 17, 2016

This blog post is part of the 'Free the Falls' letter writing campaign:

Last summer I visited South Korea for a month and was blown away by many things, especially how technologically advanced they are, how well they care for their trees in urban areas, and particularly how many tourists visit their sacred sites! 

For those who may not know, more bombs were dropped in the Korean War than during all of WWII. After the war, South Korea was flattened. Over the last 60+ years they have rebuilt their tiny nation into a growing industrial and cultural power in Asia. But as they did, they didn't lose site of their heritage and the religion whose deciples helped their population survive first through a brutal Japanese occupation that lasted over 30 years, and then through a horrific war with their brothers to the North. 

After the war, as you might expect, many of the Buddhist temples in Korea needed to be repaired and in some cases rebuilt. The Koreans did not hesitate. They fixed them up and now, anyone can visit these many incredible sites throughout the country, whether they are on mountain tops, over looking the sea or nestled in a hidden valley. 

The experience of meditating in a number of these Buddhist temples-monuments to the Korean people and their culture-has led me to believe in the need for Canada to do the same. 

We have an excellent opportunity to do something fantastic right here in the heart of the Nation's Capital by Freeing the Chaudiere Falls and Islands from development and the power dam which has desecrated the site of an ancient First Nations sacred temple that was visited and prayed at for millennia by First Nations people of many backgrounds. Unlike Christian, Buddhist, Islamic or Hebrew religious monuments, First Nations temples were special spots in nature, often waterfalls or rapids on rivers, the highways they used to travel great distances. They didn't build monuments to identify the location as it was obvious to them that a waterfall like the Chaudiere Falls is a sacred place. 

Before it was taken over by the federal government, the Chaudiere Falls had been a well known and visited temple for millennia: 10,000 years. What possible right do we have as Canadians to desecrate a religious site of such great importance to all First Nations in Canada?

It's time now to begin the healing process with Canada's First Nations people. I can not think of a better way to start this process than by turning over a sacred temple we had no right seizing in the first place. 

Just think of it: An ancient sacred First Nations temple in the middle of the Ottawa River, between the two founding European nations of Canada (English in Ontario and French in Quebec). There is nothing like this anywhere in the world! 

Once restored as much as possible to its natural state, free of development, the Chaudiere Falls and Islands will remain forever, a sacred site and a testament to the compassion of our great nation. It will attract tourists to Canada's Capital for hundreds if not thousands of years. For the cost of doing the right thing, all Canadians will be rewarded 100 times over. 

On this special day, as I walk with my First Nation friends to Parliament Hill, I call on my government to restore the First Nations' faith in Canadians by returning this sacred site to the Algonquin grandmothers so they can oversee the stewardship of this very special place. 

For more posts about the Free the Falls campaign please visit: