“Tsi nén:we wa’kwarihwaientáhkwen – Our Future – Our Responsibility”
By Aleisha Pannozzo
Nestled along the beautiful St. Lawrence River is Akwesasne, a Mohawk territory that straddles the borders of Ontario, Quebec and New York State. On the Canadian side, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) is the community-elected government that represents the three districts within Akwesasne: Kawehno:ke (Cornwall Island), Kana:takon (St. Regis), and Tsi Snaihne (Snye). With 12 district chiefs and 1 Grand Chief, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne stands as the unwavering voice of its community, advocating for their interests and preserving the rich integrity of their Mohawk heritage.
They have nine different departments that are responsible for overseeing community programs. The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne's Environment Program plays a crucial role in protecting and enhancing the natural environment within their territory. The program uses Ohen:ton Karihwateh:kwen (The Words That Come Before All Else) as their environmental framework and Sken:nen (Peace), Kasatstensera (Power) and Ka’nikonriio (Good Mind) as their guiding principles.
One of their current projects involves the Black Ash Stewardship Survey, which aims to assess the community's knowledge of the cultural uses and challenges facing the Black Ash species in the context of the present climate. This survey will aid the Black Ash Stewardship Plan, funded by the Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk. The significance of this effort is heightened by the fact that Black Ash was recently declared an endangered species in Ontario due to the destructive Emerald Ash Borer infestation in the eastern and southern parts of the province.
Furthermore, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne is actively engaged in the Great River Rapport initiative, a collaborative project focused on monitoring and reporting on the health of the St. Lawrence River. By contributing their local knowledge and insights about the river's well-being, they play a vital role in the broader efforts to protect and preserve this important waterway.
By being proactive in their environmental stewardship efforts and actively collaborating with other organizations, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne demonstrates their commitment to safeguarding their natural resources and maintaining the ecological integrity of their ancestral lands. Their holistic approach, rooted in their cultural values and traditions, sets an example for responsible environmental management and conservation efforts for their community and beyond.
Please stay tuned for Part 2 of our blog were we will delve deeper into the MCA's inspiring work and dedication to preserving their heritage and environment.