Collaborative relationship between the Mohawk First Nation of Kahnawà:ke and JCCBI bearing fruit
From left to right : Tracey Snow (Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke), Scott Berwick (Kanien’keháka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center), Sandra Martel (The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated), the artists of the Nohawk Community, Arnold Boyer (Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke)
On August 22, The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI) and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK) acknowledged their exceptional collaborative relationship at a special event to which the community was invited. At the event, officials presented two initiatives: banners featuring works by Mohawk artists that have been put up on the Honoré Mercier Bridge and the creation of a leisure pathway.
Since 1998, JCCBI has been responsible for the federal section of the Honoré Mercier Bridge, which crosses the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke on the South Shore. JCCBI’s repair and maintenance work on this bridge is carried out in collaboration with the Mohawk First Nation of Kahnawà:ke. Beyond work on this structure, JCCBI maintains a close relationship with the community out of respect for its values and traditions and to help promote Mohawk culture.
“In addition to the infrastructure work done on the Honoré Mercier Bridge since 1998 in collaboration with the workers of the Mohawk First Nation of Kahnawà:ke, we have deployed different initiatives to strengthen our relationship. We are pleased to continue showcasing Indigenous art reproduced on banners on the Bridge. This year, the people of Kahnawà:ke were also consulted about a leisure pathway that we hope to start building in next few years with the community and for its benefit,” said Sandra Martel, Chief Executive Officer of JCCBI.
“We are proud to be able to display the art and culture of our people on the Mercier Bridge,” said Ratsénhaienhs Arnold Boyer, lead Transport Portfolio Chief for the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke. “This project, along with others over the years demonstrates a good working relationship with JCCBI, and we hope to continue this relationship for the generations to come”.
Leisure pathway project
In 2009, JCCBI and MCK began discussions on restoring and beautifying the land near the access ramp coming from La Prairie toward Montreal. In response to needs expressed by the community, a leisure pathway project was developed to enhance the area and benefit the community.
From January to March 2023, PlanIt Consulting & Communications carried out consultations with the Kahnawà:ke population that included a survey of 430 people as well as individual interviews and focus groups. These activities were specifically done to define the community’s expectations. The survey showed that 76% of respondents were in favour of developing a project in this area and 71% wanted the site to be developed with a “nature” theme.
Starting in fall 2023, a working group that includes residents of the Mohawk community of Kahnawà:ke, MCK representatives, and experts will study different development scenarios. By the end of 2024, a new consultation with the Kahnawà:ke community will be held to select the final development scenario. Design work on the pathway and the construction work will be carried out shortly after.
Mohawk First Nation artwork reproduced on banners
In 2017, to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, JCCBI and the MCK partnered to launch an art competition for the Mohawk community to acknowledge the contribution of First Nations to the history of our country, celebrate Mohawk culture, and highlight the community’s neighbourhood ties to the Honoré Mercier Bridge. The selected works were reproduced on banners that were put up along the federal section of the bridge for five years. JCCBI and MCK were then eager to repeat this successful initiative.
In 2023, the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center chose 11 Indigenous artists—8 from Kahnawà:ke, 2 from Kanesatake and 1 from the Oneida Nation—to each create a work that reflects Mohawk culture based on a theme of their choice. This strategy sparked their creativity and led to diverse works reproduced on banners that can be seen on the federal section of the Honoré Mercier Bridge from July to October 2023. The project aims to promote Mohawk culture to the Bridge users: for example, 8.5 million trips across the bridge were recorded during that period in 2022, representing significant exposure for the Mohawk First Nation.
For more information about the project:
of the leisure pathway survey
about the 11 works by the Mohawk artists
of the event