11 November 2011
Dear Madame Lemay;
We attended your presentation at the National Archives on 8 Nov 2011 and certainly appreciated your leadership and personal interest in offering such an open invitation to participate in our future. What a great example of participatory democracy. You have our sincere thanks and best wishes. We believe that together we can make a difference.
As decisions and directions will have far reaching consequences in our lives, we consider it important to contribute our voice and support. In accepting your invitation, we suggest taking a page from our First Nations. Of all possibilities, we may wish to ask ourselves what are the four directions that have the most heart for us and might yield the most benefit. This may well involve directions towards becoming a vibrant international city, a city of community, a capital city, and a city of strong values. We want to be a city that sets an example for Canadians and the world.
We believe that becoming a community is more than roads, development, green spaces and festivals. We are more than tulips, the canal and Winterlude. We are more often people who relate to the NCC in terms of expectations and demands and who often insist that the NCC provide for their interests and needs. At the level of residents, we believe community should be about respect, harmony and caring for one another. It is about fostering the dignity of an amazing diversity of cultures and religions in Ottawa and about all residents being able to live well in the company of others. It is about a healthy partnership and relationship with government.
Perhaps our approach to dialogue, understanding, consultation, conflict resolution, consensus, or decision making needs to reflect a broader and more participative relationship. We suggest that leading edge community development would engage its residents around three questions:
- What do you need?
- What can you do for yourselves?
- What help do you need from others? (such as from the NCC)
At this presentation, needs were expressed from Victoria island, Lansdowne, Marsh Highlands and the cost to use cross country ski trails. The result seemed certainly a one way conversation to NCC who were pressed to respond to what are often no-win and multi jurisdictional issues, and in a future of declining funding resources.
For example, on the ski trails issue, what if the NCC had suggested that if resident groups could maintain the trails, it can be no cost or low-cost to them. NCC could provide the space and access at no cost, and save on maintenance costs. Now we have a partnership. On the Victoria Island issue, if the cost of a healing center on Victoria Island is prohibitive, what if we provide the First Nations the free use, or acknowledge their ownership, of Victoria Island? Could they fundraise and build whatever structures they need? I’m sure they could.
We believe that for people to be a real community that we need to be able to connect, meet and talk. The contributions of NCC may be to provide the public square, where open and responsible expression can occur, where elected officials can comfortably participate, and where all are taken seriously. We need to be a city where such occurrences as “Occupy Ottawa”, can be in the context of normal, peaceful, responsible and constructive dialogue.
Becoming an international city is an initiative in which we feel NCC has touched our cherished values and needs for making a difference in the world. We believe this is a tremendous opportunity and you have our complete support. This aspiration speaks to our deepest values. We noted the slide in your presentation of the monument that had inscribed “In the service of peace.” This we feel is what this city is uniquely positioned to represent and offer to the world. We can be a place where the global community can meet and talk in a safe and respectful community. The challenge will be more than assertions or aspirations; it will require engagement and involvement. We believe that this is worthy of what a capital city should mean.
We believe that activities relating to the reduction of conflict and the relief of suffering are cherished by Canadians. We are a city reflecting a Nobel peace prize for peacekeeping and peace building, a city with a tradition of voice and volunteerism in the cause of peace. We are a city where the international community and its embassies are already in Ottawa. We are a city of many peace groups, of many peace building NGOs and civil society groups, university conflict centers, the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative, an emerging Civilian Peace Service among many others. We are a city with First Nations contributing strong traditions of peace, land and spirituality. What if we engage the world by creating a Peace Centre, where dialogue, peace and conflict resolution conferences and events can be held? On Parliament Hill, we have a Peace Tower and we have an annual Mayoral proclamation of Ottawa being a City of Peace. This should mean something concrete to our city and the world.
To summarize, we believe that the current relationship with residents, municipal and regional government and the world would benefit from such a sense of identity and balance in our city.
We are prepared to put our time and skills to the great possibilities that are before us. We are prepared to offer our assistance to you in the cause of our shared future. If you wish to further discuss any issues raised, we would be most pleased to meet with you or your staff at your convenience.
Our sincere thanks and best wishes for our future;
Dr Peter Stockdale
Dr Qais Ghanem
Dr Jason Bailey
CC: Mayor Jim Watson Mayor of Ottawa
CC: Mayor Marc Bureau Mayor of Gatineau
CC: National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo Assembly of First Nations