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OPG, MCA celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day

Image of Shawna O'Neill
By Shawna O'Neill
OPG, MCA celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day
From left, Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement and Grand Chief Abram Benedict in front of one of Heart of the City's new plaques at OPG (Shawna O'Neill/Seaway News photo).

CORNWALL, Ontario – Officials of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) and the City of Cornwall gathered at OPG’s St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre on Tuesday, June 25 to recognize and celebrate the recent National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21).

Heart of the City also unveiled three new plaques that are a part of Cornwall’s Historic Walking Trail and Lone Wolf and the Spaghetti Corner Band serenaded attendees while they took in the various traditional Akwesasne arts and vendor goods available.

“I would like to say, we have a partnership with Akwesasne, and we have a partnership committee, and they took the initiative (to organize this today). So, I would like to say it was a joint effort between our Akwesasne partners and ourselves to recognize this day and take the opportunity. It’s a great chance to celebrate the relationship between us from a local perspective and promote all the great things in Cornwall and the area,” said Brett Stajkowski, Production Manager at R.H. Saunders GS.

MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict said he was pleased to be in attendance of the event and applauded people who took the initiative to recognize the importance of National Indigenous Peoples Day, whether it be locally or on a national level.

“We are unveiling another plaque here in the city (pertaining to Akwesasne)..not too long ago we unveiled this beautiful painting here (at OPG) by one of the members of the community that signifies the ongoing relationship we have with OPG within different levels of the corporation,” said Grand Chief Benedict.

“The story was not always a positive one, but with strong leadership in the community and OPG, we celebrate that…we are committed to moving forward to build strong partnerships,” he added.

Todd Lihou of Heart of the City said that there are now more than 40 plaques in and around Cornwall that tell some of the history of our area. He is pleased to continually branch beyond municipal borders and commended Pierre Giroux as the rock star of the tour with magnificent artwork.

“What we are trying to do with our walking tours is not only tell the story of Cornwall but the surrounding communities in Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry as well as Akwesasne,” said Lihou.

Heart of the City will be unveiling a book showcasing the art within the walking tours on Thursday, June 27 at Cline House Gallery and Obo Studios.

Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement commended OPG for deepening their ties in the community over the past few years. She noted that before every council meeting, she acknowledges that council is meeting on traditional territory of the Mohawk people of Akwesasne.

“My opening is a work in progress but it is important that we move in that direction with openness and respect,” said Mayor Clement. “We had a great meeting last week (with MCA)…it felt historic. In the years since our last meeting…much has been said, much has been written about our need for reconciliation. May we be informed and inspired by the energy of those discussions and by the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Report and the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.”

Mayor Clement said she is looking forward to working together with MCA as friends and neighbours for the future development of both communities. She is especially looking forward to the sharing of portlands, calling it a ‘unique opportunity for economic and social development’ and the implementation of welcoming words in Mohawk on city signage.

“I want to repeat to you Grand Chief and all the Cheifs of Mohawk Council that we appreciate your dynamism…you are all an inspiration to us as we focus on the collective well-being of your people. We admire too the many initiatives which you have pursued to make the Territory of Akwesasne the proud and successful community that it is today. We need to take more time as people of Cornwall to know more about those services and successes,” said Mayor Clement.

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