The year 2013 marked the 400th anniversary of the journey of Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer and cartographer, up the Ottawa River and his encounter with the Anishinabeg, or Algonquin, people in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. As its contribution to the area’s Champlain 2013 heritage campaign, Carleton University hosted the “Champlain on the Anishinabe Aki” Colloquium, a two day conference held on September 19 and 20, 2013.
This event was a collaborative project, a space where scholars, cultural organizations, community heritage activists, policy makers and community members, including the voices of First Nations in the area, came together to reflect upon the commemorations of the Champlain 2013 campaign. In this way, the Colloquium was a kind of conclusion to the commemorative festivities that took place throughout the Ottawa-Gatineau region over the past spring and summer of 2013.
Throughout the Colloquium’s planning, Carleton University worked directly with the First Nations of the region to ensure that their voices and perspectives of the Champlain legacy were heard. The outcome of this collaboration and was a cross-cultural conversation about the legacy of commemorating Champlain in the Ottawa Valley. The speakers and participants at the Colloquium included representatives of voluntary and government establishments of the National Capital Region who organized some of the commemorative events, scholars from Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and other universities, as well as important First Nations artists, teachers, cultural coordinators, and respected leaders. The Colloquium was thus a platform to share very different perspectives of the legacy of Champlain in the Ottawa Valley. It opened a conversation that shed light upon the disparity between Aboriginal perspectives of Champlain’s legacy and those of Euro-Canadian communities. While the latter groups commemorated the anniversary as a celebration of exploration and settlement, Aboriginal peoples rather reflect on this historical event as the beginning of colonialism and its consequences. The Colloquium then offered a space for Aboriginal people to share their perspectives and the legacy of Champlain’s 1613 journey.