Nearly 100 students from 10 Montreal-area schools, including two from Kahnawake, participated in a special Earth Day-related project last month. Several Kahnawake girls attending the Queen of Angels Academy, along with groups from the Indian Way School and Karonhianonhnha School, were among the many students that gathered to clean the banks of Dorval’s Bouchard Creek. Teachers and students alike also catalogued the pipes that are discharging into the creek.
“We will table a petition in the House of Commons calling on the Government of Canada to make an exhaustive inventory of all pollutants coming from the Montreal airport into the stream,” said Maja Vodanovic, who initiated the project.
The petition asks airport authorities to respect the 2008-47 Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal by-law regulating wastewater discharge, as well as Article 981 of the Civil Code of Quebec.
The Kahnawake girls from Queen of Angels who participated in this project were Shakira White, Cheyenne Poveromo, Olivia Diabo, Jennifer Stacey, Emma Norton and Thea Thomas.
The Kahnawake girls were instrumental in helping create a website for this project, as well as making posters and other public relations materials.
Vodanovic told Iorì:wase that the clean-up event was part of a larger project called ‘Art and Water.’
“The idea of the art project is to combine the personal history of each child to a species of bird or fish living in our ecosystem to show that we are one with nature and this concept I knew was close to the heart of Native people,” she explained.
Vodanovic was very impressed with the knowledge of the Kahnawake students. “In Kahnawake, the children knew more about the fish than I did. They had hands-on experience and have seen and touched the fish. They know their pike, sturgeon and perch,” a pleasantly surprised Vodanovic said.
Following the cleanup, Karonhianonhnha principal Kanahsohon Deer delivered a passionate speech to the participants.
“He spoke of the need to take care of the earth as we do of our garden,” Vodanovic said. “His talk impressed the children very much. They were awestruck by the style and coolness of his gestures and words.”
Following his speech, Karonhianonhnha’s fifth- and sixth-grade students sang songs in Mohawk.
“Their songs were the highlight of the gathering,” she said.
Vodanovic said the project will continue next year and Kahnawake is more than welcome to participate once again.
“The project will continue next year and will culminate in a grand collective exhibition at the Lachine Cultural Centre next February,” she said.
Vodanovic said the Mohawk language and culture will be prominent during the exhibition.
“It is the heritage of this land before all others. I find not enough attention is given to this culture that has so much influenced and shaped Canada,” she said. “With all the mistakes we have made, with the environmental disaster we are creating, it is time to stop and reflect on the culture which has always believed that nature should be protected and cared for.”
Source : Iorì:wase | KahnawakeNews.com