Indigenous Tourism Business Feature: Kahnawà:ke Tourism, Quebec
Whether you’re touring the cultural centre and learning about a thousand years of Mohawk history, seeing how birchbark canoes are made or heading to the golf course or out on the water, visitors to Kahnawà:ke near Montreal, Que. can now
instantly spot the dozen or so guides on staff.
“We have new hats, and lime green shirts and jackets,” says Kimberly Cross with Kahnawà:ke Tourism. “All of our tour guides stand out and don’ t have to wear their regular clothes, and that really helps the visitors know they’re part of
As well as buying bright uniforms, a $10,000 grant helped cover staff training, updating the website and creating promotional brochures. It also paid for a comprehensive historical guide visitors can take home. “It’s about a 40-page booklet that we have online as well as in a print form,” says Cross. “It has historical information about Kahnawà:ke, information about our culture and our major sites.”
One of those sites is the St. Francis Xavier Mission, established in 1667 and built on the existing site in 1720. Inside, you’ll find the tomb and shrine for Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the “Lily of the Mohawks” who converted to Catholicism at age 19 and died of smallpox at 24. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
In past years, the guide was more a listing of local businesses. “This year, we were able to change it, making it a historical and cultural guide instead,” says Cross. “And visitors really, really love it.”
The Mohawks of Kahnawá:ke are one of the eight communities that make up the Mohawk (Kanien:keha’ka) Nation.