MONTREAL -- The Quebec government is investing $3.3 million for a hotel project in Kahnawake, the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community on Montreal's South Shore.

The minister responsible for Indigenous affairs, Ian Lafrenière, made the announcement on Friday in his opening remarks on the second day of the Great Economic Circle of Indigenous Peoples and Quebec.

The Great Circle, a networking event between Indigenous entrepreneurs, business people and provincial MNAs, aims to promote "the full participation of Indigenous Nations in our economy," explained Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) Ghislain Picard on Thursday.

The AFNQL, which organized the event jointly with the provincial government, called on elected officials and entrepreneurs to make commitments in this regard.

Hydro-Quebec has already committed to "deepen and solidify" dialogue with Indigenous people and has recognized the "sometimes painful" history that the company shares with Indigenous people and communities in order to "draw lessons for the future," according to president and CEO Sophie Brochu.

"Energy development must be done in cooperation with First Nations and Inuit," she said, promising to "enhance the Indigenous potential in all spheres of the economic life of Hydro-Quebec."

She cited the Apuiat wind farm, as well as the partnership with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake to export electricity to New York, as examples of projects developed in collaboration.


Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer welcomed the project, but added that her community is still "in need of great partnerships" to ensure its economic development.

"We have untapped potential," she said. "The highways that run through the territory see a lot of traffic every day, so it could be home to businesses like a Target or an Amazon factory."

"Right now," she added, "we really need big real estate projects in our community."

She cautioned, however, against expropriating her people to make way for companies, a practice she said is common.

"We will not give up another inch," she said. 

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 26, 2021.