To preserve and protect the endangered Mohawk language, Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na has begun work on the creation of a Kenhtè:ke Language and Cultural Centre in Tyendinaga.
With less than 2,500 in Canada and the USA, the number of first language speakers is declining across all Mohawk territories, despite the fact that the population of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is growing. According to a release from Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na (TTO), the time to build and invest in the next generation of speakers is now. To reverse the decline of Indigenous languages in Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report called for the establishment of more education and cultural spaces.
The Kenhtè:ke Language and Cultural Centre would house TTO’s school programs, an outdoor playground for the students, and a traditional replica Longhouse, according to the release. The new Cultural Centre has been designed to accommodate current and future needs for delivering TTO’s educational and event programs.
The project is currently seeking federal and community support but is announcing a big step forward with the hiring of an architect. Toronto-based Brook McIlroy’s Indigenous Design Studio has been selected to oversee construction once funding has been confirmed.
“This is a major step forward for our project and a moment of celebration for our community,” said Callie Hill, executive director for TTO. “We are nearing shovel ready and awaiting the outcome of our applications for the funds necessary to bring this project to life.”
The Indigenous Design Studio of Brook McIlroy is a team of Indigenous architects, landscape architects, and designers who provide full-scope architectural design services to clients to infuse projects with an Indigenous perspective. The Indigenous Design Studio is led by Principal Ryan Gorrie, an Anishinaabe architect based in Brook McIlroy’s Winnipeg office, and is unique in its Indigenous leadership and the team of largely Indigenous designers who bring their design skills and cultural perspectives to their work.
“Buildings and landscapes are important cornerstones for communities to teach language and culture,” said Ryan Gorrie, Principal with Brook McIlroy’s Indigenous Design Studio. “We are honoured for the opportunity to help Tsi Tyónnheht Onkwawén:na realize their vision.”
TTO continues to fundraise and speak with government representatives about the Cultural Centre and its Building Up The Mohawk Language campaign. For more information, to download a brochure, or see renderings, visit tto-kenhteke.org/news/building-up-the-mohawk-language.