Weeknote Nov 17-23 2020

There is a city council meeting on Monday. I’m not going to watch it live but I will try to follow up on the outcomes of the following:

  • 8.1. Capitol Theatre Legacy Grant Application
  • 8.7 Parking Bylaw 9023 – Recommended Amendments on Sandwich Street (C 215/2020)
  • 11.1 Contracting Out Caretaking Services – Phase II- City Wide (C 219/2020)

That being said, it looks like a lot of attention will be paid towards the Sewer Master Plan. I am not an engineer and so I’m not entirely sure whether the allegations that a partially blocked drain of the (federally-built )Herb Way Parkway was a significant contributing factor or there is a narrative that is directing attention to a convenient scapegoat.


Did you know that the beaver is the embodiment of wisdom according to the Anishnaabe? From Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s 2020 Kreisel Lecture, entitled A Short History of the Blockade: Giant Beavers, Diplomacy & Regeneration in Nishnaabewin:

In 1975, the beaver [the animal, not figure] became an emblem of Canada as a symbol of its sovereignty, because the first Europeans in Indigenous territories saw the Beaver not as a relative, but as a money making attraction to supply the continent with nifty felt hats. 

Two hundred years of making beavers into accessories led to their near extinction. And now beavers are mostly known to us as a nuisance and an inconvenience. But this Indigenous land, this Indigenous water, these Indigenous bodies have centuries of oral literature and an embodied practice that know different… Beavers — Amikwag — represent the practice of wisdom. 

I want to think about that for a moment. Out of all of the beings that make up life on this planet, to my ancestors, Amikwag embody the politics and the ethical practices of wisdom.

Amikwag build dams, dams that create deep pools and channels that don’t freeze, creating winter worlds for their fish relatives, deep pools and channels that drought proof the landscape, dams that make wetlands full of moose, deer and elk, food cooling stations, places to hide, and muck to keep the flies away. Dams that open spaces in the canopy so sunlight increases, making warm and shallow aquatic habitat around the edges of ponds for amphibians and insects. Dams that create plunge pools on the downstream side for juvenile fish, gravel for spawning, and homes and food for birds.

And who is the first back after a fire to start the regeneration makework? Amik is a world builder. Amik is the one that brings the water. Amik is the one that brings forth more life. Amik is the one that works continuously with water and land and plant and animal nations and consent and diplomacy to create worlds. To create shared worlds. 

Prior to contact with white people, it is estimated that (North America) was home to between 60 and 400 million beavers. That’s three to five beavers for every kilometre of stream, a beaver in nearly every headwater stream in North America. Biologists call the beaver a keystone species.

CBC Ideas: The Brilliance of the Beaver: Learning from an Anishnaabe World

I am delighted that the beaver have returned to the Olde Sandwich.


It appears that any contribution to flooding from the Herb Parkway system is unforgivable. Can we find a way to live with possible flooding from amikwag? It reminds of me of this article I recently read,

This means that urban wilding must be more than just improving access to nature: it involves redesigning our urban infrastructures to account for our non-human neighbours, so that we don’t just co-exist, but, more, that we are mutually supportive and generative. Cities globally have started experimenting and organisations like Wild Cities are helping chart a path, demonstrating how cities can become happier and healthier, and societies more resilient and adaptive.

Urban wilding, however, has many socio-cultural complexities that differ from rural rewilding (which is a whole separate topic that I’m not focusing on here). Dr Bridget Snaith has shown how people of different race, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds have quite different perspectives on urban landscaping.

You might think that everyone loves green cities, but in actual fact there is no cross-cultural consensus on how, why and when to use green urban spaces, or how to care for them — one person’s lovely ‘wild’ meadow, is another person’s unkempt park suffering for lack of maintenance. Urban wilding — involving social, cultural, environmental and technical infrastructures — needs to account for this diversity of perspective, both in designing wild processes as well as in delivering them.

Making Wild Cities — Notes on Participatory Urban (Re)Wilding, Usman Haque

The seven pedestrian bridges of the Herb Parkway are themed after the seven Grandfather teachings (in which wisdom is represented by the crane) (page 12 of 20).

It is essential that we try to incorporate these lessons into our lives beyond these design gestures.