Toronto Star

Knife to be returned to Algonquin nations

Tool was discovered during Parliament Hill renovation­s


OTTAWA—An ancient Indigenous knife unearthed during the renovation of Centre Block will be the first artifact found on Parliament Hill to be returned to the stewardshi­p of the Algonquin people who live in the Ottawa region.

Archeologi­sts say the return of the stone knife, which is estimated to be 2,500 to 4,000 years old, is a historic move that officially recognizes Indigenous peoples inhabited the land — considered unceded territory — that is now the site of Parliament Hill.

The Kitigan Zibi Anishinabe­g, an Algonquin First Nation based about 130 kilometres north of Gatineau, Que., and the Algonquins of Pikwakanag­an First Nation, about 150 kilometres west of Ottawa, are to share ownership of the artifact.

It will be displayed on Parliament Hill when the refurbishm­ent of Centre Block finishes and the building reopens, which is not expected to happen until at least 2030.

Until then, it will be shown in Indigenous communitie­s, including schools, according to Doug Odjick, a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabe­g council.

The knife, shaped from Onondaga chert quarried in Ontario or New York state thousands of years ago, is not the first Indigenous artifact found in the parliament­ary precinct. Shards of pottery and a shell bead were found on Parliament Hill in the 1990s.

However, Ian Badgley, manager of the archeology program at the National Capital Commission, said the knife’s discovery had prompted a new approach by the federal government to returning First Nations artifacts.

“It’s the first time that the government of Canada has accepted a pre-contact artifact as indicating use of Parliament Hill by the Indigenous population,” said Badgley, who is also archeologi­cal consultant to the two First Nations who will take stewardshi­p of the knife.

“It’s one artifact, but it is really remarkable how it has spawned an interest in the Canadian government in working with the Anishinaab­e Algonquins.”

Jeremy Link, a spokesman at Public Services and Procuremen­t Canada, said: “Discussion­s are ongoing on how to transfer joint ownership of this artifact to the communitie­s.”

The knife’s discovery, by archeologi­sts working on the revamp of Centre Block, coincided with the capital’s first

archeologi­cal field school, aimed at training First Nations archeologi­sts. The field school, which this year excavated the site of an Algonquin camp in Ottawa, will now be an annual event near the capital.

There are plans to establish field schools across Canada to train First Nations archeologi­sts and give Indigenous peoples greater control over their own excavation­s. For many thousands of years, the Ottawa Valley was a trading hub for First Nations from across North America, because of its location at the confluence of rivers, which made travel by canoe easier.

“The things that have been found in and around Ottawa have come from places as far as New York, to Hudson’s Bay to the West Coast as far as California,” said Odjick.

 ?? ?? An image of the stone knife that was found during Centre Block renovation­s. The tool is estimated to be between 2,500 and 4,000 years old.
An image of the stone knife that was found during Centre Block renovation­s. The tool is estimated to be between 2,500 and 4,000 years old.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada