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Kahnawake cultural community gets $1 million for new building

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It has been a decade in the planning and breaking ground at the new culture and language centre in Kahnawake just got a $1 million step closer this week.

The Magic Palace poker house donated the money which will go to construct a new home for the Kanien'kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center (KORLCC), Turtle Island Theater, the community tourism office, and other organizations in the Mohawk community on across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal.

"We felt a responsibility to be good business community members and were lucky enough to be given the opportunity when we were asked to contribute to such an important project for our community," said Magic Palace CEO Louis John Diabo.

The donation comes after Playground Poker Club donated $1 million in the summer, and Mohawk Online donated $5 million in July. The capital campaign in the community needs to raise $16 million to construct the new facility.

The building's new museum will attract visitors from across the region while the cultural centre continues its work revitalizing and growing the language and other aspects of culture.

"A lot more people are coming here; they want to find out about the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk)," said Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennahawe Sky-Deer. "It will be an opportunity to educate people from the outside. We're so close to Montreal, a major metropolitan city, people come from all over Europe and the world pretty much, so if we have a cultural centre like this showing our perspective, I think it's going to go a long way in building relationships. There is still a lot of racism and lack of understanding when it comes to Indigenous people."

The plans include a 4,800-square-metre building on three acres of land bordering Highway 132.

The architecture of the structure is designed to be in harmony with the greenery around it.

The hope is to break ground on the $35 million centre next year.

The cultural centre runs a two-year Kanienʼkéha (Mohawk language) immersion program, which will finally have a permanent home.

"We've been in operation for 45 years," said KOR executive director Kawennanoron Lisa Phillips. "Our mandate is for language and culture, and we run the adult immersion program, which is in its 20th year."

The hope is to break grown in the spring and do a final ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2025. 

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