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Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and Federal Bridge Corporation Limited Sign Memorandum of Understanding for North Channel Bridge

 

Pictured are: MCA Grand Chief Mike Mitchell, FBCL Vice-President Glen Hewus, Chief Larry King, Chief Louise Thompson, Chief William Sunday, Chief Florence Philips, Chief Brian David, DTS Director Jay Benedict, FBCL Engineer Thye Lee, FBCL Communications Andre Garron, FBCL Corporate Secretary Jacque Pigeon, and Rik Saaltink for SIBC.

AKWESASNE MOHAWK TERRITORY— The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) announced that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited (FBCL) for a new bridge that will cross the North Channel of the St. Lawrence River between Kawehnoke (Cornwall Island) and the City of Cornwall. The agreement provides the concurrence of the Mohawks of Akwesasne for the bridge project and was signed on September 19, 2011 between representatives of the FBCL and the MCA at FBCL’s main offices in Ottawa, Ontario.

The MOU covers work to be undertaken by or on behalf of the FBCL for the construction of a new low-level bridge and the removal of the existing high-level bridge crossing the North Channel. More importantly, the agreement provides assurances that employment and other economic opportunities of the bridge project will be maximized for the benefit of the Mohawks of Akwesasne.

“It has long been a goal of both the MCA and the FBCL to provide a safe and efficient bridge crossing at Akwesasne,” said MCA Grand Chief Mike Mitchell. “After consulting and receiving approval from community members to move forward with these agreement, we are pleased that respectful negotiations has brought us one step forward to reaching our common goal. The MCA is equally pleased that the agreement supports MCA’s ongoing efforts to establish positive and significant economic development for the Akwesasne community.”

Through the signed agreement, both parties acknowledge that environmental concerns have been addressed in the Harmonized Environmental Assessment Report that was prepared in January 2006. Acceptance of the environmental report in principle by the MCA in May 2007 has paved the way for a new low-level bridge, removal of the current high-level bridge, and other works needed for the completion of the bridge project.  As a result, the Canadian Government has provided $75 million to finance the project.

The MOU establishes an 8-person Joint Technical Support Team (JTST) composed FBCL and MCA representatives to provide advice and share information with the MCA throughout the bridge project. They will work together to identify works that will maximize the project’s economic benefits for the Akwesasne community. For its part, the MCA shall prepare semi-annual reports on the Akwesasne labor force, contractors and other local expertise needed for the project’s completion.

The tendering process of the bridge project will include specific provisions that promote the usage of Akwesasne Mohawk workers, vendors and other suppliers at competitive prices. Bids will be required to include plans for the participation of the Mohawks of Akwesasne, or other Haudenosaunee communities in the event that services are not locally available.

The Grand Chief stated, “This agreement recognizes Akwesasne’s long history and expertise in high steel construction and our willingness to share our pride as ironworkers.” He added, “It also demonstrates our continuing desire to work together with our neighbors and key stakeholders to achieve and maintain peaceful and respectful relationships.”

The FBCL has advised the Grand Chief that the work undertaken to build the bridge’s piers is proceeding very well and that the Bridge Corporation is impressed with the skill of Mohawk ironworkers. The pier work will be completed by the end of November and will provide a strong foundation for the bridge’s construction. It is something to consider in building a future relationship between the MCA and the FBCL.

 

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