Quebec funding brings Kahnawake one step closer towards a new cultural arts centre
An $11M financial contribution from the Quebec government will help pave the way for the construction of a new cultural arts centre in Kahnawake.
It's something the community has desired for a long time -- one building that houses various organizations, a place to celebrate Mohawk culture and language.
The executive director of the Language and Cultural Centre said she never thought it would happen.
"I thought it was always going to be a dream and that we would never make it reality, and now it is reality," Lisa Phillips told CTV News. A first attempt to get it built in the early 80s failed.
Phillips said she's eager for the community to have this special place.
"Language and culture encompasses everything that we are. So it's extremely important to us, to our community," she said.
The Mohawk Council estimated the project will cost about $56M and the community is halfway towards reaching that goal.
Quebec is investing $11M, Ottawa has invested $16M, and now the community is preparing to do its part to help get the project off the ground, the Grand Chief of Kahnawake explained.
"We haven't even gone to the community, we haven't done community events. We want the community to rally around this and get behind it because it's ultimately the legacy project for our next seven generations," said Sky-Deer.
There have been many hurdles along the way, including the pandemic and the rising cost of living, but now they're back on track.
Quebec's minister of relations with the First Nations and Inuit peoples, Ian Lafrenière, announced the government's contribution on Tuesday along with leaders and stakeholders from Khanawake.
"We've been looking for that moment for such a long time and we made it," said Lafrenière, adding that Quebecers show an interest in learning about the community's history.
"There have been two tourism surveys done confirming the willingness of people to know more about language and culture," he said.
And Sky-Deer said she thinks the best way for them to learn is directly from the source.
"We are long overdue for a museum in the community that also showcases our rich history and who we are," she said.
Construction on the new cultural center which will be located next to the Kahnawake Survival School is scheduled to begin in the fall and is expected to be completed by 2026.