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OPG and Mohawk Council celebrate 10 years of partnership

On Oct. 2, more than 70 people from the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA), OPG and the Cornwall community gathered inside the St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre to mark the 10th anniversary of the final settlement agreement between OPG and MCA.

The settlement came after more than 15 years of negotiations and acknowledged past wrongs made by OPG’s predecessor company, the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, in the development of power operations on the St. Lawrence River decades ago.

The construction of OPG’s R.H. Saunders Generating Station as well as the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s required more than 6,500 people to be relocated to higher ground. For the Mohawk people of Akwesasne, this resulted in flooding of their traditional territory and loss of resources and quality of life.

OPG and Mohawk Council of Akwesasne representatives stand together with shovels.
OPG and Mohawk Council of Akwesasne mark 10 years of partnership.

As part of the 2008 settlement agreement, OPG issued a public apology and both groups agreed to a new partnership that has resulted in several environmental initiatives as well as employment and capacity building programs.

Another great outcome was a traditional Mohawk mural painted in 2017 by local artist John B. Thomas, which is displayed prominently in the visitor centre. Titled “Kaniatares,” or Long River, the 21-foot mural depicts a typical day in a Mohawk village on the St. Lawrence River in the 1700s.

During the celebration on Oct. 2, the visitor centre’s auditorium was renamed “Sowatise John B. Thomas Memorial Auditorium” in honour of Thomas, who passed away in March 2018.

“Our community and Council takes great pride in the relationship we have with OPG and we look forward to many more years of positive outcomes,” said MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict.