Cross-Canada expedition reaches out to Montreal Mohawks

Crew members of the Canada C3 Exhibition meet students at Karihwanoron Mohawk Immersion School in Kahnawake. June 12, 2017. Dan Spector/Global News

The crew of a 220-foot icebreaker ship travelling across Canada with a message of reconciliation made a stop in Kahnawake Monday.

The Canada C3 Expedition is in Montreal as part of its journey in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. The ship is travelling 23,000 kilometers along the Canadian coastline.

It started in Toronto and will travel up the St. Lawrence River to the Maritimes before going to the Arctic, travelling through the Northwest Passage and eventually to Victoria, BC.

READ MORE:  Icebreaker C3 cruising the Northwest Passage from Toronto to Victoria for Canada 150

One of their goals is to connect with indigenous communities across the country.

“It’s about relationship building. It’s about learning. It’s about building trust and understanding. And the best way to do that is to meet face-to-face and to share,” expedition leader Geoff Green told Global News.

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The crew took a bus to Kahnawake to visit the Karihwanoron Mohawk Immersion Elementary School, where Mohawk is taught as a first language.

Crew members from all over the country watched with delight as the young students showed them their morning ritual of giving thanks.  They pledged to bring lessons they learned there back to their hometowns.

READ MORE: Canada 150: Could you pass the Canadian citizenship test?

Staff at the school were happy to share their philosophy and the importance of teaching Mohawk as a first language, but they were bittersweet about the visit coming as a result of Canada’s 150th birthday.

“It’s the 150th year that we have discovered people coming onto our shores. It was a tool to get them here. If they weren’t funded by the so-called anniversary, they may not have come,” said Dale Dione, a board member at the school.

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