An agreement to ensure the continuation of reconciliation and cultural exchanges with the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, while also preserving, enhancing and disseminating its tangible and intangible cultural heritage was signed on May 30 between the Government of Quebec, the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent.
The event, which took place at the National Assembly, brought together Mr. Luc Fortin, the Minister of Culture and Communications and Minister responsible for the Protection and Promotion of the French Language, Mr. Geoffrey Kelley, the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. Stephane Billette, the MNA for Huntingdon and Chief Government Whip, Mrs. Louise Lebrun, the Prefect for the haut-Saint-Laurent MRC, Grand Chief Abram Benedict, Chiefs April Adams-Phillips and Troy Thompson, as well as artists John Ryan and Natasha Smoke-Santiago.
The Cultural Development Agreement (2016-2019), which represents a total investment of $169,000 over three years, includes $50,000 from the Ministry of Culture and Communications, $45,000 from the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, $45,000 from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, and $24,000 from the Haut-Saint-Laurent MRC.
In a speech, Louise Lebrun emphasized how “the Haut-Saint-Laurent and the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne are long-time neighbours. It is out of this proximity that a strong will to collaborate and to exchange was born. It is therefore with great pride that this agreement, the third of its kind, has come to fruition. The activities planned are as exciting as they are extensive and it is with great enthusiasm that the MRC will participate in projects related to memory and heritage in order to share this knowledge with those around us.”
Minister Luc Fortin also announced the classification of the Droulers-Tsiionhiakwatha Archaeological Site under the Cultural Heritage Act. The site, which is well-known in the Haut-Saint-Laurent, is located in Saint-Anicet on the original site of a village occupied by St. Lawrence Iroquoians in the mid-15th century. The village, which was occupied for around twenty years, consisted of a dozen long houses and was inhabited by a population estimated at 500 individuals. It represents the most significant source of information known to date for understanding St. Lawrence Iroquoian societies, and the research potential of the site remains considerable. An interpretation centre, created in collaboration with the Mohawk Community of Akwesasne, partially reconstructs an Iroquoian village and offers cultural workshops.
“I would like to congratulate those who have played a role in shaping this important agreement for our two communities as well as the process that has led to the classification of a unique site in my riding. The classification of the Droulers-Tsiionhiakwatha Archaeological Site demonstrates how our government is committed to preserving this place, which to date is the most significant Aboriginal site discovered in Quebec,” said Mr. Stephane Billette, the MNA for Huntingdon and Chief Government Whip.