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Kahnawake building a new cultural centre, multi-purpose building

Click to play video: 'Different communities band together to help Kahnawake build cultural centre'
Different communities band together to help Kahnawake build cultural centre
WATCH: For years, the Mohawk community of Kahnawake has been working to create a permanent home to allow their culture, language and arts to exist and thrive. Now, that dream is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to the efforts of several communities. Global's Gloria Henriquez reports. – Sep 30, 2022

A large piece of land next to the Kahnawake Survival School (KSS) is about to become the foundation of many dreams come true for the Mohawk community of Kahnawake.

Preparatory work will soon begin to build a multi-purpose building in Kahnawake that has been in the works for years.

“With this building coming up, the arts are going to have a permanent home in this community and we’re very grateful for that,” said Kyle Zachary, the president of Turtle Island Theatre.

The theatre went on hiatus in 2013 for several issues, including lack of proper space but it’s now come together again, with the prospect of a new hub looming.

“We won’t have to worry about renting two separate places and that eating most of our budget,” Zachary said.

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The building will not only house the theatre but the community’s tourism office. It will also replace the old cultural centre and museum.

“They were in an already condemned building that had leaks in the roof, had squirrels living in with the students, with the staff,” said Chief Jessica Lazare.

Chief Lazare says the goal is for the building to become a hub for the Mohawk culture to rebuild and flourish; and a place to hold valuable items that are waiting to be repatriated to the community, such as some artifacts at the Lachine museum, an old fur trading post.

The mayor of Lachine, Maja Vodanovic says she is eager to work with Kahnawake in order for the community to tell their side of history.

“It was always told by us and I want to help them tell their story in their own way,” Vodanovic said.

Read more: Quebec’s largest pow-wow returns to Kahnawake, brings thousands together

Vodanovic is part of the board fundraising to make Kahnawake’s cultural centre a reality.

The board needs to raise $16 million out of the estimated cost of $37 million.

“Anybody who wants something to be put back right should be investing in this project because it’s the best for reconciliation,” Vodanovic said.

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Chief Jessica Lazare says she’s overwhelmed to see people come together to help.

“These individuals who are in the cabinet, some of them are not Indigenous and the fact that they feel so passionate about this project, really demonstrates how much heart and how much willingness there is to help our community and help our people.”

Chief Lazare estimates the project will be completed in 2025.

Organizers say online donations will be accepted soon, for those interested, email info@planitkahnawake.ca for more information.

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