Students in the summer semester of the Trent-Loyalist journalism program went to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Monday. The tour was led by Dustin Brant, the Indigenous outreach officer at Loyalist College.
The day began with a visit to Quinte Mohawk School, which was built in 1977. The school goes from kindergarten to Grade 8 and provides daycare services as well.
The designated wetland is intended for students to “give back to Mother Nature,” Brant says. Here, they can learn about species that inhabit the ares in a classroom without walls. There are also gardens at the front of the school representing the “Three Sisters”: corn, beans and squash, which are seen as the sustaining crops.
The next stop was the band office, where elected councillors meet. Councils elections occur every two years. “There’s advantages and disadvantages to this,” says Chief’s Assitant, Charlie Maracle, mentioning that it takes about a year to get settled in and adjust to position.
The Christ Church, built in 1843, is open for any denomination to worship. Maracle explains that it’s the friendship between the British and Mohawks is what makes the church so special.
A national site of historic significance is found outside the church. Doctor Oronhyatekha was the first Indigenous Oxford scholar and a practicing physician in Frankford, then later Napanee and London, Ont.
The next stop was at a Longhouse. Events of all sorts, from funerals to gatherings, are practiced here.
The final stop was the water treatment plant. The plant runs under provincial guidelines, although is federally-funded, which means things take a long time to get done, Brant says.
“A lot of people who work in the community do it out of love and I don’t think they get the appreciation they deserve,” said Brant. He mentioned that over half the people working in the community are only making minimum wage and many of them serve important jobs.
Students had different takeaways to reflect on at the end of the trip.