THE HONOURABLE JANE PHILPOTT, MINISTER OF INDIGENOUS SERVICES, VISITS AKWESASNE
On Tuesday, December 19th , the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, made her inaugural visit to Akwesasne, along with 15 members of her staff. The newly created Department of Indigenous Services was established in August 2017, along with the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) after the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Council was pleased that within the first year of her department's existence, Minister Philpott and her staff made it a priority to visit Akwesasne.
During this gathering, Grand Chief Abram Benedict along with several district chiefs accompanied Minister Philpott and her team to the districts of Kana:takon (St. Regis), Tsi Snaihne (Snye), and Kawehno:ke (Cornwall Island) so that they could see how the various departments and programs within the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) operate. During the discussions, Council, along with directors and managers, identified the challenges and opportunities for MCA and the community, as well as the potential partnerships that can be created between MCA and Minister Philpott. She and her staff were also able to witness first-hand the jurisdictional difficulties that are faced by Akwesasronon on a daily basis as they travelled within the three districts.
In Kana:takon, Minister Philpott visited the Skawitsira Program (Mohawk immersion) to see how the Ahwesahsne Mohawk Board of Education (AMBE) has incorporated the Kanienkeha language into the curriculum. She and her staff noted how impressed they were at the implementation of the language into the school system.
Following the Kana:takon School tour, Minister Philpott travelled to Tsi Snaihne to view the new housing units in Whoville, to see the facilities at Iakhihsohtha and the Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre, and to receive a cultural presentation at Iohahi:io Adult Education.
Following the tour, Minister Philpott and staff stopped at the Tsi Snaihne Recreation Center for a delicious meal, and to also hear from a community member who spoke of the difficulties that they face, as a parent of a child with special needs.
Minister Philpott and staff then made their way to Kawehno:ke's A’nowara’ko:wa Arena in order receive an overview of the services and programs MCA provides to the community, presented by MCA directors and managers.
Grand Chief Abram Benedict noted that while MCA is a “model First Nation community, there are still many challenges that are faced on a daily basis.” He also noted that he hopes these discussions are “just the beginning of long-lasting partnership between Minister Philpott and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.”
While addressing Council and Directors, Minister Philpott noted that her “doors are open to you all in my office. This has been a wonderful time to come together. Please continue to reach out and we look forward to working with you.”