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Trade ironworkers instead of hockey stars

Ironworkers such as Albert Stalk feature in a set of trading trades that can be purchased at the cultural centre and are part of a unique promotion for the APTN series. (Courtesy Muskeg Productions Inc.)

Those used to opening a pack of O-Pee-Chee sports cards, cutting your cheek on the disgusting stick of gum, and going through the “got it, got it, need it, got it” routine, as they flip past superstar athletes in the NHL, NBA or Major League Baseball, will like the latest promotion campaign from the producers of APTN’s Mohawk Ironworkers series.

Ironworker Albert Stalk received his set of 87 ironworkers trading cards produced by the show, and noticed a familiar face on the top of the deck.

“It was something else. When I got them, mine was on top,” said Stalk with a laugh. “It was nice to see a lot of older guys in there. They should have done that years ago.”

Stalk, or “Eiffel Al” as some call him, is part of the pack that the show’s producers came up with to promote the series. Stalk features in episode five of the series.

“We were sitting around one day thinking about how we could promote the series and do something useful,” said series creator George Hargrave. “Because we had all these great shots of ironworkers.”

Naturally, the first idea was a classic.

“Someone said, ‘well they’re so handsome and everything, we should do a calendar,’” said Hargrave. “I thought that was beyond what we were capable of doing.”

The second idea landed, and got everyone excited.

“Anybody who’s seen them, really likes them,” said Hargrave. “It really does popularize those guys and the work they do. Why shouldn’t they have their own trading cards?”

Kahnawake’s Josh Diabo worked as a summer student with the production crew and put the cards together. The cards are also featured in the videogame Rivet Rampage that puts you in the role of an ironworker tasked with working on the Empire State Building in Manhattan.

The response to both the cards has been overly positive.

“Most of the people are smiling,” said Hargrave. “They look proud, confident, and we’re really pleased the way they came out.”

The one mistake Hargrave mentioned was a number of typos in some of the ironworker’s names.

“We tried to correct it, and we apologize profusely,” said Hargrave, who added that future trading cards will correct the errors.

The series itself has been widely heralded by viewers, who get a peek into the fascinating industry responsible for the skeletons of many a building in cities across Turtle Island.

“We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from viewers on our Facebook page,” said co-creator Paul M. Rickard originally from the Moose Factory Cree community in Northern Ontario.

Stalk was excited at his episode, and was particularly pleased to hear Kanien’kéha being spoken in voice-over during a scene he was in.

“It was probably what I was thinking, but I didn’t know I could think Mohawk,” he said.

Past episodes of the show can be found at aptn.ca/mohawkironworkers.

The pack of 87 cards is available at the Kanienkehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center for $20. All proceeds for the cards go to the cultural centres in Kanesatake, Hogansburg, Cornwall, Brantford, Six Nations and Kahnawake.

Stalk hopes the idea will grow.

“Maybe they’ll take off,” he said. “Maybe they’ll go further now, and get other cards in there – some vintage cards of some of the older guys.”

For Stalk, who already had some fame through modeling and acting after being the first person ever to climb Paris’ Eiffel Tower without safety gear, he has a word of advice for those enjoying a moment in the sun as a result of the show and card deck.

“That 15 minutes of fame that you got at the time, you better soak it up because it doesn’t last that long,” he said.

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