Characteristics

From the municipality website:

“The Municipality of La Pêche, located in the Outaouais administrative region, north-west of the City of Gatineau, includes nine village clusters, namely Alcove, Duclos, East-Aldfield, Farrellton, Lac-des-Loups, Lascelles, Rupert, Sainte-Cécile-de-Masham and Wakefield. Born out of the municipal mergers undertaken by Québec’s Ministère des Affaires municipales in 1975, the Municipality covers an area of 597.74 km 2, making it the largest municipality in the MRC des Collines de l’Outaouais, and one of the largest in Québec.”

With a population of just over 8,000 residents, the population density is approximately 14 people per km 2. Sixty percent of the population is bilingual. The mother tongue of fifty-eight percent of the population is French.

Below is a chart from the 2016 federal census of residents’ occupations by industry, comparing the municipality to the national average.


2016 census data on occupation industry for the La Pêche region

Unceded, unsurrendered

Anishinaabe Thunderbird designed by Grand Chief Ben Wawia

Below is a short history of the land on which we live and are organizing for change, drawn from the book Since Time Immemorial: “Our Story” The Story of Kitigan Zibi Anishnàbeg  by Stephen McGregor and the larger Kitigan Kibi Anishnàbeg community. It is available for loan at the Wakefield Public Library and for purchase from the Kitigan Zibi Education Sector.

Since time immemorial, humans have been in relation with this land. Nomadic Algonquin Anishnàbe were the first people to live in the Ottawa Valley Rivershed. Though many more people live here now, they have never ceded or surrendered their right to it. Additionally, there is ongoing Indigenous presence and there are ongoing resistance movements today.

When the Laurentide Ice Sheet retreated at the end of the last glaciation period, hunter-gatherers migrated into this land from the west. These people were the ancestors of the First Nations of Turtle Island. One of these groups, the Algonquin nation, lived and travelled along Kichi Sibi (known today as the Ottawa River). Because of their nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle, their exact number is unknown, though some estimates have placed the Algonquin population that lived around the Ottawa Valley Rivershed between 5,000-10,000, similar to our municipality today, but spread out over a much larger territory. Archaeological evidence and oral history shows that they had trading relations with their neighbours to the north, the Cree and the Innu, with the Iroquoian nations to the east with whom they traded, fought, intermarried, and formed political alliances, and with other Anishnàbe nations to the east, south, and west. Anishnàbe nations (along with many other First Nations) did not practice individual ownership of the land.

Algonquin are also central to the history of European exploration and colonisation of Turtle Island because of their location along the Kichi Sibi, which provided important access to the interior for the ships travelling up the Saint Laurence. Settlement would not have been possible without their assistance with survival and navigation. The French were the first to travel inwards, and were initially uninterested in settlement, first seeking western passage to the “Orient”, then seeking to bring cod back to France. Later however, when the European appetite for furs began to grow, the prospect of establishing colonies became more attractive and economically feasible. The French and the British competed to establish control over the trade of beaver pelts and engaged in warfare for 190 years. The Algonquin formed an alliance with the French while the Iroquois nations aligned themselves with the British.

The British won the war against the French. Before the French surrendered, the Seven Nations of Canada, which included the Algonquin, signed a peace treaty with the British (this was the 1781 Treaty of Swegwatchy which was reaffirmed by the Royal Proclamation of 1783). Neither during the long, brutal war between the French and British, nor during the writing of the peace treaties did the Seven Nations sign away their right to the land. The British, however, would subsequently rewrite the rules and agreements many times without consent from the Algonquin as the colonists pushed ever further westward. Many land claims, treaties, and battles took place over the next hundred years, which the now-government of Canada attempted to consolidate under the Indian Act of 1874. European settlement in what would become the La Pêche municipality was also occurring around this time, beginning in the mid-1840’s.

As logging continued along Tenagadino Zibi (the Gatineau river) and settlement expanded northwards, the surviving Algonquin in the area formed the River Desert Reserve No. 18 in 1863, which is today Kitigan Zibi. They did so to protect some form of their access and rights to their land within the rapidly-expanding colonial project though, again, in doing so they never signed away their right to the land, and they were out of necessity agreeing to terms that were culturally, politically, and spiritually incompatible with their worldview.

For the next 150 years, resistance to land theft continued both in our region and across Turtle Island, along with resistance to related tactics and issues like assimilation and extraction. Locally (in the Ottawa River Valley watershed), we see resistance in movements to protect Chaudière Falls from development, Idle No More, and solidarity actions with Wet’suwet’en land defenders, as organized by local Indigenous communities and organizations like Indigenous Solidarity Ottawa and Assembly of 7 Generation (A7G). Most recently Kitigan Zibi and other Algonquin communities declared a moratorium on the 2020 settler moose hunting season and restricted access to their territories. We see Algonquin presence (and Indigenous presence more generally) on this land to the north of us in Kitigan Zibi, Indigenous people and businesses in our community (like Khewa and Nikosi), and in the shared use of this watershed, like the annual youth canoe journey along Tenagadino Zibi from Kitigan Zibi to Kichi Sibi.


Colonial governance

Local organizations

Below is a non-exhaustive list of local organizations that shape the culture of our community

Local organization spotlight

FOG ARG

Wakefield Grannies

Wakefield Emergency Fund

FOWL Friends of the Wakefield Library

Women’s March Network

Table de dévelopement sociale

Musical Mondays

Artist tour

Gatineau Valley Historic Society

Fairbairn

Theatre Wakefield

100 mile art network

Wakefield chamber of commerce

Writers Fest

Wakefest

WIFF

Green Burial Québec

Dragonfest

Wakefield community centre organization

Wakefield Trails association

Wakefield Community Radio

PAF

ABVd7

Biblioterre

If you represent an organization who would like to do climate justice work and/or would like to be added to this list, please email us.

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