What issues matter to you? What priorities should the community focus on in order to build a better and stronger future? Community members will have the opportunity to voice their opinions at KCI’s open house. (Marisela Amador The Eastern Door)
If the future of Kahnawake’s social and economic development, head on over to the Knights of Columbus today for the Skátne Teionkwakà:nere – Kahnawake Collective Impact’s (KCI) open house to have your voice heard and make your choice count.
KCI invited the whole community to come out in droves to their open house event, which started on Thursday (September 5) and continues today.
“We want community members to come out and join the conversation. We want them to help us in any way that they can to create a stronger future together. This is the opportunity to do so,” said Trisha Delormier, project director at KCI.
During the event, people will be able to walk around the woodland-themed event and get information on the different initiatives and projects KCI is working on. Afterwards, they will be presented with six different priorities, and they must choose the top three.
The priorities are food sovereignty initiative, language and culture mentorship program, an economic development strategy, kahhwá:tsire (family) resource for expecting or new parents, a holistic health and wellness initiative for the youth, and a community plan.
Randy Cross is in charge of the food sovereignty initiative and said, “It’s about controlling our own destiny where we can grow our own food, in the community.
“Growing traditional food and foods that are healthier than what you buy in the markets. The main thing is to try and organize food sovereignty for the benefit of our future.”
The family resource program aims to provide expecting and new parents with teachings and tools to cultivate and strengthen their families.
The language and culture mentorship program would place masters (first-language speakers) with apprentices (individuals with a desire to learn Kanien’kéha) in an immersion setting on their own time, pace and schedule.
The youth initiative goal would be to provide young
adults with the freedom to learn and create their own group-driven, and individually respecting, one-year program in “Preparation For Life.”
“Kahnawake doesn’t have an economic development strategy. We need to identify what areas of development are needed to move forward,” said Debbie Delisle, who is part of the economic development working team.
Finally, the community plan aims to help fulfill KCI’s shared vision statement, which is to bring social and economic progress to Kahnawake and its people. The shared vision statement was established in 2009 and is currently at the midpoint.
“We have campfires setup for discussions with the working groups to allow opportunity for conversation to happen, for exchange of information to happen,” said Delormier.
“We want people to come in and feel welcomed and sit down and learn more about what the collective impact movement is about, learn about the priorities that have been identified in past events, and that have been worked on by the working groups that have been supported by a steering committee, as well as the support of some of the key organizations in town,” she said.
“We are trying to create an atmosphere to allow dialogue
and have community members share their thoughts on which priorities they would like to see the community pursue and take action on.”
KCI is a grassroots movement that came to be when Tewatohnhi’saktha discovered certain trends were indicating a decline in various social and economic areas in town.
Tewatohnhi’saktha contacted the Kahnawake Education Center, Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services, and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake to discuss how to handle these trends.
Some of the issues discovered included employment/job opportunity, education, social issues and household and secure income.
KCI was then created to tackle these issues head-on by discussing the challenges in-depth as a community, and taking responsibility to develop and implement solutions together.
Delormier said that after the open house event, KCI will allow an additional week period for community members to provide feedback by contacting the movement.
“Once we have all of that information, we will review the results and present that back to the community. We hope to do that early this fall,” she said.
“We are offering free food, childcare, transportation, family-friendly activities. We think this is a unique opportunity that people would want to be a part of. You don’t want to miss it.”