Shining a light on Montréal’s Indigenous history

Mark Hamilton

Likes romantic walks on Mount Royal, long-distance cycling, beard oil products and antique travel guides. Has a bad habit of falling in love with men in vintage photographs who are certainly long dead. If he could be anything, he’d live his life as a professional flâneur. Until then, he spends his time writing, making music, and wandering.

Before there was Montréal, the local Indigenous populations knew this area as Tiohtià:ke, and this winter that storied history comes alive in lights.

Note: Due to current public health directives, some businesses and attractions may be temporarily closed or may have reduced hours or services, so we recommend that you call ahead or visit their websites for the most up-to-date information. As well, under the province-wide curfew in effect from January 9 to February 8, 2021, residents must be home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. so plan your activities accordingly. For more details on the current situation in Montréal, click here.

An important crossing

Created in close collaboration between the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center (KORLCC) and the Ville-Marie arrondissement, Peel Street is lit until February 15, 2021 with glowing representations of three of the Rotinonhsión:ni Clan System’s symbolic animals: the turtle representing perseverance, the wolf symbolizing loyalty and the bear as a symbol of strength.

In 2018, thousands of historical artefacts hand-crafted by the St. Lawrence Iroquois were unearthed at the intersection between Peel and Sherbrooke Streets, one of Montréal’s busiest crossroads. And now, a local call for projects to commemorate the discovery brings the installation of four shining constellations designed by Kaiento:ton Kyle Williams, to remind Montrealers of the rich tapestry of history interwoven throughout the city. Scannable QR codes will provide a deeper dive into the area’s history through texts by Teyowisonte Deer, enlightening passerby to the street’s storied past.

Peel’s past, present and future

A bustling favourite thoroughfare for locals, Peel Street’s ongoing makeover is primed to pay an important acknowledgement to its past while looking ahead into the future. As part of the street’s continuing evolution, the City of Montréal also plans to uniquely display and incorporate some of the artifacts discovered there in future projects, all created and carried out in collaboration with the island’s Indigenous communities. But until then, these sparkling constellations, whose rectangular framing also calls to mind the Iroquois symbol the Hiawatha belt, offer an unforgettable glimpse into their history, while lighting the way forward.

Mark Hamilton

Likes romantic walks on Mount Royal, long-distance cycling, beard oil products and antique travel guides. Has a bad habit of falling in love with men in vintage photographs who are certainly long dead. If he could be anything, he’d live his life as a professional flâneur. Until then, he spends his time writing, making music, and wandering.

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