Archive forJanuary 2013 - Peter Sibbald's Blog About Photography and Filmmaking

Voices from the Fire: Goosed!

Ottawa, Ontario Canada. Victoria Island encampment of hunger-striking Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence. A Canada goose from the Ottawa River makes itself at home amidst the Chief’s supporters.


After nearly a month of Chief Spence and her co-hunger-strikers going without solid food, to a skeptical person at least it might appear that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent agreement to meet with Canada’s First Nations Chiefs on Friday January 11, 2013 —though he hasn’t admitted to it—may have come about due to pressure from the Chief, the growing international Idle No More movement and major voices of social justice  such as Amnesty International, not to mention Gaia herself represented by this goose.

Hardly the skeptic, I’m certain that the PM finally figured out how to meet the Chief’s demands as a result of the helpful directions provided to him in my recent blog post.

Screen shot from working title Voices from the Fire, now in production.

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Driving Directions for The PM to visit Chief Theresa Spence

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

A number of non-Native folk have contacted me looking for directions to Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike encampment on Victoria Island, and so it occurs to me that perhaps the reason you may have not been over to visit Chief Spence is because you couldn’t find your way.

After all it has been over 3 weeks since she began her strike and she must be getting rather hungry by now to at least have some news from you.

As we enter what may yet prove to be the coldest January in a number of years, I also wanted to remind you to please dress warmly. There’s no sense resuming Parliament with a cold after you return to work from your Christmas recess on January 28, three weeks after the kids have gone back to school . You might even want to replace that 100X beaver felt cowboy hat with a beaver fur one. I realize those cowboy hats are warm, but they’re missing those cosy fur ear flaps that are so much more practical in this weather. Besides you’d probably look even more dashing in fur than felt. I’ll bet you could borrow one from one of your mounties; they’re issued with great fur hats, or at least they used to be, before the federal budget cuts.

Also it’s pretty cold for the Chief’s supporters over on the island, and so it might be a thoughtful gesture to bring along some food, firewood, warm clothing or extra blankets as they would be well appreciated by the fire-keepers who are keeping round-the-clock watch over Chief Spence and her sacred fire. And if you really want to be politic, you might bring along a little tobacco for an offering.

Oh yes and fresh water… I imagine the drinking water from the taps at 24 Sussex is much cleaner than anything any ordinary Canadian will have access to going forward once international and domestic corporate interests have their way with those thousands of navigable lakes and rivers removed from protection last month by the provisions of your omnibus bill, C-45.  Perhaps Canadians could run a water pipeline from the facility providing clean water to 24 Sussex into the general drinking water supply. In the long run that could save  tax payers oodles of health care dollars by sparing us al from being forced to consume the imminently contaminated local water… well at least until you abolish universal healthcare. After that I guess it won’t matter as it will be up to the sickened and dying Canadian population to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to get on an level playing field with the Chinese who, by then, will own many of our former resources and Native reserve lands.


But I digress. I know you must be chomping at the bit for those directions so you can go see Chief Spence right away, so here they are:

Please give these directions to your driver, once your are settled comfortably in the back of your limo.

1. Start out going southwest on Sussex Dr / Promenade Sussex toward Alexander St / Rue Alexander.

2. Sussex Dr / Promenade Sussex becomes MacKenzie Ave / Avenue MacKenzie.

3. Turn right onto Rideau St / Rue Rideau / HWY-17B / RR-34. Continue to follow RR-34 W.

RR-34 W is 0.4 kilometers past Murray St Le Chateau Rideau Centre is on the right If you are on Promenade Colonel by and reach Daly Ave you’ve gone about 0.1 kilometers too far

4. Stay straight to go onto Wellington St / Promenade de l’Outaouais, past the Prime Minister’s Office.

5. Turn right onto Booth St / Rue Booth.

Booth St is just past Lett St If you are on Promenade de l’Outaouais and reach Broad St you’ve gone about 0.1 kilometers too far

6. Turn right onto Middle St / Rue Middle.

Middle St is 0.2 kilometers past Place Vimy If you are on Pont des Chaudières and reach Rue Eddy you’ve gone about 0.3 kilometers too far into Quebec. Fortunately Quebec is still not a foreign country yet, though if the PM keeps attacking the arts and artists, he may just alienate that province enough to separate in which case, driver, in the future you might want to remind the PM to bring his passport on his excursions.


Proceed to the Chief’s encampment at the East end of that road. 

Total Travel Estimate: 5.15 kilometres – about 10 minutes

Alternately the PM could use his new military-grade GPS that Charlie the Chinchilla gave to him for Christmas:

Middle St, Ottawa, ON K1R  45.421620, -75.711155 (Address is approximate)


P.S. If you’re still not sure how navigability and environmental protection of Canada’s waterways are related, perhaps it is because you were too busy limiting debate surrounding bill C-45 to have time to read the open letter that EcoJustice sent you in November. You can still access the legal backgrounder they prepared for you here and if you’re resolved to leave your Blackberry unplugged over the Christmas recess, your personal secretary can download and print a nicely formatted hard copy from here. Heck, you might even be able to get a good start on it in the limo on the way over.

 Oh… and Mr. Prime Minister,  please don’t forget that beaver fur hat.

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Chief Theresa Spence’s Hunger Strike Encampment: Getting There

It’s come to my attention that there is some confusion about how to travel to the encampment. Indeed I recall having trouble figuring this out myself as Mapquest and Google maps are a little sketchy on how to access Victoria Island in the Ottawa River. Your closest nearest landmark is, ironically, the Canadian War Museum which any search engine should find for you easily enough. Proceed north a couple of blocks from that point on Booth Street. Access is a block or so north of the Canadian War Museum making a right (eastward) turn from the top of Booth Street via the Chaudieres Bridge onto Middle Street on Victoria Island,  and then drive ~1/2 km to the east end of the island. The Chief’s teepee is readily evident projecting above the split log  palisade walls of a tourist attraction type of fort which encloses the encampment. Lots of free parking nearby. Also near city OCTranspo bus stop.

Dress more warmly than you think might be necessary and consider bringing food, water, firewood, clothing blankets etc as it is cold and damp there because of the open water of the nearby Ottawa River.

I was planning to include a map but haven’t time to create my own since using a slice of Google maps or Mapquest here would be a copyright violation.

So here it is again for quick copy and paste:

From Highway 417 (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
exit Rochester Street north,
first right travel 2 blocks East to Booth,
turn left & proceed north past the War Museum onto the first part of the Chaudieres Bridge,
make a right (east), onto Middle Street on Victoria Island,
and then drive ~1/2 km to the east end of the island to traffic circle and parking area.

Time of travel pending traffic from Highway 417 to the  encampment is 15 minutes or less.

I will update this post with a screen-grab from my video footage as soon as I can.


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