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Tyendinaga project sets sights on protecting the Mohawk language

While the number of first language speakers is declining across all Mohawk territories, the population of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is growing. That’s why Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na (TTO) is proposing the creation of a Kenhtè:ke Language and Cultural Centre in Tyendinaga.

Since its founding, TTO has developed and delivered language and cultural educational programming for children, youth, and adults out of several spaces in the Mohawk. “With a young and growing population, the time has come to invest in the infrastructure required to preserve and revitalize the Mohawk language and culture for generations to come,” said Callie Hill, TTO’s executive director in a news release.

“We have long recognized that we as a community need to move from language acquisition to regular language use: when we’re learning, when we’re shopping, and when we’re living our daily lives,” says Hill. “Providing a dedicated hub where those working to revitalize culture can work together is an important next step in the transition from language survival to language growth. Saving our language entails rebuilding a speaking community.”

The project has received words of support from Donald R. Maracle and Tyendinaga Mohawk Council, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde, Queen’s University Principal Patrick Deane, and numerous other Indigenous leaders, politicians, and other supporters.

The Kenhtè:ke Language and Cultural Centre would house TTO’s school programs, an outdoor playground for students, and a traditional replica Longhouse. The new Cultural Centre has been designed to accommodate current and future needs for delivering TTO’s educational and event programs.

The building design is approximately 13,000 square feet and would consist of classrooms, administration offices, adult education learning rooms, a teaching kitchen, an art studio, a rooftop medicine garden, and a gathering space for up to 300 people for community events and celebrations.

This new facility has been inspired by input from the community, the dreams and aspirations of students from the Haudenosaunee Opportunity for Personal Education (HOPE) program (an alternative learning program located in Tyendinaga), and TTO staff and board members.

The campus would be built on an 8.32 acre site located on Salmon River Road in Tyendinaga, and is anticipated to create 11 new jobs.

TTO is currently engaging federal politicians and bureaucrats to discuss funding support for this facility. Learn more about the project on TTO’s website.

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