When Gareth of Maker House Co. and Amanda of Freewheeling Crafts approached us in 2016 and presented their vision for Craftfest 2017, we were immediately taken by their enthusiasm for local culture and community. As a One Planet Community, everybody at Zibi is committed to reinforcing our 10 guiding principles and collaborating with others who feel the same. We are particularly impressed with the earnestness with which they embrace their values and follow-through with meaningful action. Hosting and sponsoring Craftfest was an easy decision and a natural fit. We couldn’t have found better partners in Gareth and Amanda.
We are also encouraged by their commitment to including and engaging with Indigenous artists and vendors in the local community. They have been proactive in their approach and keen to understand the complexities a large interprovincial project like Zibi poses in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. As such, they reached out to many members of various Algonquin Anishinaabeg and Indigenous communities. We are proud to say that Algonquin, First Nation, Inuit, and Métis artists will be participating throughout the course of this two-week long celebration of local excellence. They are also adamant about highlighting National Aboriginal Day on June 21st to Craftfest participants, and set off to collaboratively organize a panel session to explore the diverse and important issues surrounding reconciliation and celebration of Indigenous culture in the built environment of Ottawa-Gatineau.
Unfortunately, it appears that Zibi as a location for Craftfest has brought about misguided frustration and undue harassment towards some of its organizers and artisans. The efforts of these courageous community leaders deserve support and curiosity. We applaud Ottawa 2017 for supporting Craftest, as this event is an amazing celebration of local artists and artisans. Ottawa 2017 aims to encourage and showcase Canadian and local excellence, which happens to be the core mandate of Craftfest. Their support of this great event is simply an acknowledgement of the talent and hard work that has gone into the organization of such an event, and of the great work Maker House Co. and Freewheeling Craft do all year long.
As for Windmill, we do not condone the unjust actions that have been taken against the organizers of Craftfest and their participants. We continue our engagement with Algonquin Anishinaabeg communities in both Ontario and Quebec, we are steadfast in our approach and would encourage both supporters and detractors to learn more about the results of our ongoing engagement. We know of no other private company in the region leading a new way of partnership with the Algonquin and continue to openly invite others to join us. We are proud of the two latest signed letters of intent with Algonquin Timiskaming and Long Point Algonquin First Nations, joining Pikwàkanagàn First Nation and the Algonquins of Ontario to further collaborate on the project’s outcomes. For more information go to zibidialogue.com.
We understand that many of the claims levied against this event are not directed to the organizers or the participants, and as such we would ask that any actions that would restrict the enjoyment of Craftfest be reconsidered. We hope that people will take this as an opportunity to discover a historic site, get acquainted with hundreds of amazing local artists and craftsmen and women, as well as support the local community and economy.
Please visit the Craftwest website for more details, and come visit them from June 11th to 25th.