Building firm chosen for TTO Kenhtè:ke Language and Cultural Centre

The design of the new language and cultural centre, by Brook McIlroy design and planning firm. Image submitted.

The Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na (TTO) Kenhtè:ke Language and Cultural Centre is one step closer to completion, now that the building committee has awarded the building contract to Niagara Falls-based NIACON following a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

According to a release from TTO, construction is set to begin in early spring, no later than Apr. 1, 2024. Kingstonist previously reported on the sod-turning for the building in early June 2023.

“We are thrilled to embark on this transformative journey with the start of construction of our new school and cultural centre,” said Callie Hill, Executive Director of Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na Language and Cultural Centre. “Our vision extends beyond bricks and mortar – it is about creating a dynamic space that cultivates knowledge, celebrates culture, and builds community for generations to come. Thank you to all who have journeyed with us and continue to do so.”

The Kenhtè:ke Language and Cultural Centre will be located at 39 Salmon River Road within Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, on land provided by the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. According to the release, Brook McIlroy’s Indigenous Design Studio completed the designs, and Dr. Daniel Brant of Daniel J. Brant & Associates, a Tyendinaga-based consulting business, will manage the project. Construction is now estimated to be completed in fall 2025.

The interior design of the new language and cultural centre. Image via TTO.

“I’m pleased to support this local project and help bring this much needed resource to life for all members of our community, present and future. We look forward to creating a lasting legacy and a welcoming space for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and those seeking to learn about our culture,” Dr. Brant stated.

According to the release, the Centre will provide educational and cultural programs for community members, non-Indigenous organizations and individuals interested in learning about Onkwehonwe’néha (Mohawk language, cultural values, and traditions) to support reconciliation. The new facility will include a teaching kitchen, an art studio, and a gathering space for up to 150 people for programs, events, celebrations, and ceremonies. TTO said that the building design meets the CAGBC’s Zero Carbon Building Design Standard by achieving zero operational carbon emissions and low embodied emissions in its construction.

“We are so pleased to be a part of this historic and meaningful project. NIACON is committed to safety, sustainability and the well-being of all, and we feel privileged that we can play a part in helping TTO deliver on its vision for the Kenhtè:ke Language and Cultural Centre. We look forward to seeing this beautiful facility become a gift to both the community and the landscape,” said Tim Krause, NIACON President.

The project is being majority funded through a $9.6 million contribution to this project, announced in June 2023, through the Government of Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program (GICB). According to the release, an additional $1 million provided by the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and community fundraising will address the remainder of the project cost. With construction costs having escalated since the project was first conceptualized, fundraising is underway to help cover the cost of landscaping, parking lots, furnishings, equipment, and internal fixtures.

Kingstonist inquired with TTO as to what has delayed construction commencing since the June 2023 sod turning. Project manager Daniel Brant responded and said, “the ‘delay’ in construction was to avoid starting this project at the beginning of the winter season. This timeframe was requested by the owner not only because of the weather, but also to avoid conflicts with other building projects being carried out on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. “

TTO is a registered charity and donations towards the Kenhtè:ke Language and Cultural Centre are gratefully accepted via CanadaHelps.

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