New Plaques Celebrate Akwesasne Heritage and Power Dam

June 25, 2019
By Bob Peters

Cornwall Ontario –  Three new plaques have been added along the St. Lawrence River to celebrate the heritage of Akwesasne as well as to recognize the historic achievement of the construction of the R.H. Saunders Generating Station.

Mayor Bernadette Clement - Grand Chief Abram Benedict

The new plaques are located at the OPG St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre and bring the total of plaques that make up Cornwall’s Historic Walking Tour to 42. Once again the artwork of Pierre Giroux is a focal point, however the Akwesasne plaque is unique in the series. It features the painting titled Kaniatares (Long River) by Mohawk artist John Thomas and for the first time ever the plaque offers information in 3 languages.

“We live in a trilingual community – Mohawk, English and French,” said Grand Chief Abram Benedict, who helped unveil the new plaques. “It is important to recognize the language we speak at home and its value to our families and our community.”

The plaques were unveiled in a ceremony organized by OPG in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day. A number of Akwesasne artists and organizations participated in the event to celebrate the Mohawk culture.

“We admire the many initiatives Akwesasne has pursued to make it the proud and successful community that it is today,” said Mayor Bernadette Clement. “We take pride to be neighbours in friendship and we want to be your partners in progress for the benefit of both our communities.”

Three new plaques can be found along the Waterfront Trail on the south side of the St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre. The original painting by John Thomas is on display inside the Centre, along with a number of other exhibits that celebrate the river, Akwesasne and the Power Dam.

“It’s a great chance to celebrate the relationship between us from a local perspective and promote all the great things in Cornwall and the area,” said Brent Stajkowski, Production Manager at R.H. Saunders GS.

Akwesasne is a Mohawk Nation that lies directly south of Cornwall, incorporating parts of Ontario, Quebec and New York State, including a number of islands in the St. Lawrence River. The people of Akwesasne are predominately Kanienkehaka (Mohawk). The largest island in the territory is Cornwall Island (Kawehno:ke). It is home to a number of commercial establishments as well as Native North American Travelling College – a unique cultural centre that houses a museum and art gallery. A key focal point for sporting and cultural events on the island is the A’nowara’ko:wa  Arena (Big Turtle Arena). The arena is the site of the International Pow-Wow each September, which provides the opportunity for thousands of visitors to experience Mohawk culture and heritage.  Cornwall Island is accessible from Cornwall via the Seaway International Bridge. Visitors can walk, cycle or drive to the island.

About the Historic Walking Tour

The Historic Walking Tour is made up of 42 plaques that profile a different event or milestone in Cornwall’s rich history using colourful illustrations by renowned Cornwall artist Pierre Giroux and research from local historian Lily Worrall.  Individually each plaque is impressive, yet together they form a tapestry that weaves throughout the area.

About the St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre is located on the bank of the St. Lawrence River east of the Robert H Saunders Generating Station. The 13,000 square foot gold level LEED building opened in the summer of 2010 and is the new home of OPG’s many stories. It recounts the fascinating history of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project and addresses its impact on specific communities such as the Mohawks of Akwesasne and the Lost Villages. There is a variety of video presentations available, and displays on hydroelectric, thermal and nuclear generation, safety around power facilities, the American eel and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

For more information on The St. Lawrence Power Development Visitor Centre please contact 613 932-4563 ex. 3520 or visit them online:


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