Original Published on Jul 04, 2022 at 15:39

By Marisela Amador, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Launched in 2019, the Kanesatake Business and Economic Development (KBED) department is hard at work making connections and building a more prosperous future for the community. 

“The initiative was created for the economic self-sufficiency of the community to really secure a strong economic future,” said Tourism project leader Veronique Vincent. 

Vincent explained that by generating more income, the community would become more financially independent, which will hopefully lead to a better quality of life for Kanehsata’kehró:non. 

Although the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake created the department, Vincent and Caira Nicholas, the tourism development officer, have some leeway in deciding the department’s focus and goals based on their mandate. 

“As Indigenous Peoples, we always rely on government programs and stuff like that and sometimes we are stuck, so the goal is really to create job opportunities and build a healthier community,” explained the project leader. 

For example, KBED recently sent a call out for artists, artisans and creatives for a potential future project. However, the women remained tight-lipped about the possible project as they still await confirmation and approval on multiple fronts. 

Vincent explained that they are working on three main initiatives: tourism, agriculture and economic development for entrepreneurs in Kanesatake. They will also be adding a fourth initiative, green energy, sometime in the future. 

“Right now, we are focusing on building relationships within the community but also outside of the community. Because that is something that we really need to work on. One of our priorities is to listen to the needs of the people in the community,” she said. 

“We are also trying to build relationships with the different stakeholders in the region and with different tourism agencies. We are canvasing everything right now. We are working on many projects.” 

Nicholas said that the department is using social media and other tools to reach out to many different people and organizations within and outside the community. 

“We have been meeting with business owners, especially the farmers around here, just to remind them that we are here to meet them. A lot of them don’t really know us personally, so that is another side of connecting,” said Nicholas. 

“It’s building, too, personally on our own relationships as reconnecting members to ensure that the future is going to stay representative of their wishes.” 

She also said that through the many discussions, they have learned that different people have different definitions of what tourism means to them and the community. So the women are doing their due diligence in connecting with community members. 

“Tourism is very exciting. We have so many ideas and so many things in the process, and as we are meeting with people and understanding their needs – even the people are giving us ideas,” said Vincent. 

“There is a lot of initiative from specific individuals, so we have lots of plans, and we have also started different conversations within the region. It’s a region that is already known for tourism. It’s just up to us to take a piece of that pie.” 

This item reprinted with permission from The Eastern Door, Kahnawake, Quebec