Recognizing Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon course’s Indigenous heritage

We would like to acknowledge that the land on which we run is unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg People. We are grateful for the opportunity to host Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend on this land, annually. 

Thank you to Annie St-Georges, an Algonquin Elder of the Territory, for honouring us with this traditional greeting and blessing prior to Tamarack Ottawa Virtual Race Weekend and Scotiabank Ottawa Virtual Marathon.

The Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon course features sites rich in indigenous heritage and monuments commemorating significant figures, a few of which are highlighted below in celebration of National Indigenous History Month in Canada: 

Kichi sìpi, the Great River 

Kilometres 11 through 32 of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon take you along Canada’s 13th longest river, Kichi sìpi, more commonly known as the Ottawa River. Kichi sìpi means ‘Great River’ in Anicinàbemowin, the Algonquin language. The river played a crucial role in the life of the semi-nomadic Algonquin People, it was a food and supply source, and a place to commune. Today, the Great River divides the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, however it is believed that the Algonquin people have lived on both sides of the river for at least 8,000 years before Europeans arrived on Turtle Island (the Americas). Remic Rapids (kilometre 14), was once a busy trading and rest area for both Indigenous peoples and early explorers. Taking to the trails and pathways along both sides of the river is a privilege and a meditative experience for many Ottawa-Gatineau runners, walkers and cyclists. 

 

Pimisi Station

Ottawa’s new Confederation Train Line runs parallel to the Great River and participants can see Pimisi Station as they close in on kilometre 19. Pimisi means ‘eel’ in Anicinàbemowin. Pimisi is recognized by the Algonquin People as a food source and medicine, was used as a traditional offering and traded with settlers. To highlight its significance, an 8-metre tall chromed eel stands as a landmark, as well as several other beautiful pieces of indeginous-influenced art, at this station. 

 

Akikodjiwan aka Chaudière Falls 

If you look to your left as you cross over the Chaudière Bridge from Ontario into Québec at kilometre 20, you can see one of Ottawa’s most thunderous and beautiful natural attractions, Akikodjiwan, otherwise known as the Chaudière Falls. Akikodjiwan means ‘place where the water falls into stone basins whose rounded form resembles a boiler’. Water flows, even today, powerful and unstoppable at this sacred site. It was—and is again—a meeting place along this important trade route. Here, the Indigenous peoples made ceremonial tobacco offerings to the forceful river to ensure safe journey. 

 

Monument to Algonquin Chief Tessouat 

Before turning onto the Alexandria Bridge to take you back to the province of Ontario at kilometre 26, you pass the architecturally-unique Canadian Museum of History on your right, and behind it on the bank of the Ottawa River is Chief Tessouat.

Algonquin Chief Tessouat was a leader, warrior and key figure of the early 1600s. He and his people controlled trade up and down the Great River, collecting toll for passage. As history tells, the Chief Tessouat did not allow Samuel de Champlain passage along the river after Champlain tried to exclude him from the fur trade. Regardless of the explorer’s attempts, the Chief continued to control trade along the river and ensure sustainability of the Indigenous communities until his death in 1636.

 

Gichi Zibi Omaami Winini Anishinaabe 

This controversial bronze sculpture, formerly known as Anishinabe scout, was created in 1918 by Hamilton MacCarthy. In the 1990s, it was moved from its original location, overlooking the water, kneeling next to a statue of Samuel de Champlain, to Major’s Hill Park. Now known as Gichi Zibi Omaami Winini Anishinaabe, a traditional name for the Algonquin people, the statue overlooks runners as they cross over the Great River into Ontario at kilometre 27.

It is truly significant to be able to include these landmarks and treasures of the Algonquin People in the Nation’s largest race weekend.

We are grateful. Meegwetch. Thank you. 

 


Resources:

http://www.ottawariver.org/

https://www.historymuseum.ca/history-hall/traditional-and-creation-stories/

https://www.tanakiwin.com/algonquins-of-ontario/our-proud-history/