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Québec Hands Over $11M for the Kahnawake Cultural Centre

le jeudi 25 mai 2023
Modifié à 14 h 57 min le 26 mai 2023
Par Valérie Lessard


Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer accompanied by Minister Ian Lafrenière. (Photo: Le Soleil – Denis Germain)

After the federal government and Kahnawake businesses, on Tuesday, May 16th, it was the Government of Quebec’s turn to announce its contribution of $11 million towards Kahnawake’s project to build a Centre for Culture and the Arts.

Translation Amanda Bennett

Initially estimated at $32 million, the construction costs of this building, which will include a museum, a theatre and a language and cultural centre, have soared to $56 million since the pandemic, explained Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, who is also chairing the project’s fundraising campaign. The campaign goal is to raise $16 million, mainly from the community and $9 million has been raised to date.

“We are very aware that we also depend on our external government partners to bring the project to fruition,” Ms. Sky-Deer told a press conference. The federal government has pledged $16 million in 2022.

“We are well aware that we also depend on our external government partners to bring the project to fruition,” Ms. Sky-Deer related during a press conference. The federal government pledged $16 million in 2022.

Kanien’kehá: ka culture somewhere other than books

The Minister responsible for relations with First Nations and Inuit Peoples, Ian Lafrenière, said he was delighted that the Quebec government had become a partner in this cultural initiative, which he believes will help create links between nations. 

The Minister referred to a survey on tourism and Indigenous culture that confirms the public’s interest in learning more about Indigenous languages and cultures. “The results are extraordinary: 75% of Europeans say they are interested in learning more, and 89% of Quebecers,” he said.

The Grand Chief also believes that non-Indigenous communities will benefit from learning about their culture. It’s high time we had a museum in our community,” she said. (…) A lot of people from the surrounding areas need to learn more about us. They don’t learn about us from history books and what’s taught in school. The best way to learn who we are is from us directly.”

A Building in Ruins

For Lisa Philips, Director of the Kanien’kehá: ka Onkwawén: na Raotitióhkwa (KOR) Cultural Centre, the provincial government’s announcement comes at a significant time, on the eve of the start of demolition of the centre’s original building, which is falling into disrepair. “It’s very emotional for us. I’m thinking about all the older people who came here for the language and the music,” she said.