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Polling blows it out of woods for Cultural Centre

Proponents of the proposed new cultural centre breathed a satisfied sigh of relief this week when large numbers came out in support of the project. (Tehosterihens Deer, The Eastern Door)

The Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Centre (KOR) held a poll for a new centre to be located on Highway 132 and the results are in, overwhelmingly supporting the new building near Survival School.

Poll dates began last Saturday at the Service Complex from 9 a.m. till 12 p.m. and continued Tuesday at the Golden Age Club from 12 p.m. till 8 p.m.

A total of 354 votes were cast, with 308 voting yes, and 45 voting no, with one spoiled ballot.

“I am pleased with the results, due diligence has been done on every level of the project,” said Trina C. Diabo, OCC technician at the Mohawk Council. “I’m excited for both the KOR and the theatre group that they can truly begin planning for the future.”

“We used this poll to gauge support from the community on SLS-11 because of the issues in June, and we had promised that we would go to the community,” said Lisa Phillips, interim director of public programs at KOR. “What will happen now is it goes through land management process, which processes all lands in the community.”

KOR was assisted by membership and social development, with a system that can give an accurate number of participants. The system has all community members with a band card listed.

“There were some issues with membership being part of the process before, but we were looking at it for accuracy and accountability,” said Phillips

In June, some Kahnawa’kehró:non protested the cutting of the trees and had significant concerns for the ecology and medicine located at the possible site.

Phillips explained the controversy.

“We were in another part of the process, which was a part of the feasibility study. We had to handle this study, which was near completion. All of the consultations had taken place, the research, etc, all that was left was to get the holes dug on the site to determine if the land could hold up a building, and to see if the soil wasn’t contaminated,” she said.

Before the holes were dug, they were faced with opposition and were forced to shut down.

“We’ve been doing presentations for the community, which had low attendance and low questions,” said Phillips. “We’ve had three studies, and if anyone wants to look at them, they can stop by the library and look through them.”

The testing in June was on a total of 14.8 acres, but they are only focusing on three acres, with 1.2 of that being the building.

Cultural centre’s Lisa Phillips shows where the proposed new building will be when completed. (Marisela Amador)

“We looked at the tree inventory, environmental assessment, and searched for the best place to put the building,” said Phillips

“Right now, we can anticipate construction as late as 2022. First, there would be obtaining the capital costs; then moving into the tender/selection for the various aspects such as the project management, the architecture, and construction,” said Diabo.

It was noted that the project would cost an estimated $20 million to be completed, with funding applications already being made.

“We’re working on the applications for funding right now, and once we get approval for the building we go on to begin the project,” said Phillips

The design of the infrastructure showed a museum, cultural centre and theatre.

“The money will come from the federal and provincial government with an estimated 85 percent of cost coverage. We would also have to get a possible loan and private funding,” said Phillips.

Aside from the museum, the cultural centre is hoping to get three floors, where the Ratiwennahní:rats Kanien’kéha immersion classes could be held, along with offices. There are also plans for a studio, green room, and production rooms.

“I hope we can push hard to get this sooner, it’s needed now and 2022 is a long way off, but a lot of work and planning will now begin,” said Diabo.

“The KOR can now begin planning how they will move and continue with the services, work on the galleries for the museum, and obtaining artifacts from various museums & storages.”

Kahnawake will also see the rise of the Turtle Island Theatre Company who will finally have a home and can begin planning how they will bring back the drama/arts programs for the young and elders.

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