Twenty Years after the Oka Crisis, Injustice Continues

This article comes from Coalition of Solidarity with Native People, a Francophone solidarity group in Canada. N..B. this article is translated from French, so please excuse any linguistic oddities.

On July 11, 1990, the Surete du Quebec, responding to an injunction sought by the mayor of Oka, Jean Ouellette, invaded the small Mohawk community of Kanehsatake.Four months earlier, had started a vigil to protest peacefully against the draft of the town of Oka to expand its golf course and build a parking lot on the traditional territory of the community, threatening its ancient pine forest and cemetery. Tension had been rising steadily since then, which had convinced the Mohawks shut down a secondary road through the pine forest.

At five o’clock on the morning of 11, the SQ goes on the attack, causing the response of Aboriginal armed. A member of the Response Unit (SWAT) of the SQ, Marcel Lemay, was fatally shot. The police retreated in disorder. Barricades were erected on Route 344. In a gesture of solidarity, the Kahnawake Mohawks blocked the Mercier Bridge.This is the beginning of what is called the Oka crisis. It lasted 78 days, shattering not only Quebec but all of Canada.

Despite lip service by the government after the crisis, yet nothing has really changed for Aboriginal people and even less for the Mohawks of Kanehsatake where the root causes of the crisis remain whole.

A territory under constant threat
The news has been given responsibility for reminding us. Early in June 2010, Montreal promoter Normand Ducharme, announced his intention to appeal to the Sûreté du Québec to enable the achievement of a construction project along Route 344, on land located just opposite the Pine Forest Kanehsatake. Last January, the Mohawks had to protest to convince the developer to abandon its intention to proceed with clearing the land.

Another very controversial project could soon be approved by the Government of Quebec. This project of mine Niocan. It wants to exploit an ore of niobium (the radioactive element) Oka, on the territory of the Lordship of the Mohawk Mountains Two considers them for over 290 years. In addition, the company has never been able to demonstrate beyond doubt that no harmful effects would affect the region and in particular it does not contaminate soil and drinking water sources used by many Mohawks.

Hopes dashed
The formation of the 1991 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, also called the Erasmus-Dussault commission, raised hopes that the federal government had learned from the Oka crisis and was ready to substantive changes in its Aboriginal relations.Advertising, five years later, a report of 4,000 pages, containing over 400 recommendations, has also raised many hopes for the vast majority were bitterly disappointed. Not only the situation of Aboriginal people did she not really improved, but the government’s attitude has hardened since the coming to power of the Conservative Party of Stephen Harper.

The best example is the refusal by the Canadian government to ratify the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In September 2007, Canada was one of four countries, with the United States, Australia and New Zealand, to oppose its adoption by the UN General Assembly. No less than 143 countries have yet supported. In his Speech from the Throne in March 2010, the Harper government announced its intention to finally ratify the Declaration, as has already been done more recently Australia and New Zealand, but “in full compliance with the Constitution and laws of Canada. In short, Canada is well prepared to adopt the Universal Declaration, provided that it forced him to any substantive change in its policies.

Same thing in Quebec where the Charest government was willing to adopt a motion asking the federal government to ratify the Declaration … but only to the conditions laid down in Ottawa!

Solidarity always necessary
On July 12, 1990, in the aftermath of the attack of the Surete du Quebec cons Kanehsatake a picket was held outside the headquarters of the SQ on Parthenais Montreal. It was the birth of Solidarity with the Coalition of Aboriginal people on a daily basis, has organized demonstrations throughout the summer of 1990.

This active solidarity, “the street” has helped thousands of people of all ages and all backgrounds, to oppose the actions of their own governments and to hear a speech-cons. Despite the chilly silence of the vast majority of intellectuals and artists from Quebec, many personalities have expressed their solidarity with the Mohawks at events organized by the Coalition. This is particularly the case of trade unionist Michel Chartrand, who died recently, trade union activists and feminists, Madeleine Parent and Roback, writer and activist, Pierre Vallieres, an anthropologist Rémi Savard, singer Richard Desjardins, filmmaker Arthur Lamothe and sculptor Armand Vaillancourt.

This solidarity has continued to occur, once the crisis is over. Closer links were forged not only with the Mohawks, but also with members of other indigenous nations. Demonstrations, pickets, occupations of offices, conferences have been organized in support of Mohawk struggling with police and judicial repression, but also many other causes, struggles against Cree and Innu hydro-electric projects Great Whale and SM-3; resistance Anishnabe Barriere Lake cons clearcuts on their territory, support for the Lubicon Cree Lake, Alberta, faced with the forestry giant Lubicon, etc..

Even if the Coalition Solidarity has ceased operations, some ten years, other groups have formed, other initiatives have been taken, other battles have been supported.

Because he believes that solidarity is still needed, a group of militants and activists of the Coalition of Solidarity with Aboriginal people has decided to revive, at least for the twentieth anniversary of the resistance of the Mohawks and especially for the peaceful march to be held in Kanehsatake and Oka, Sunday, July 11. We invite you to join this event to demand justice for the Mohawks and all indigenous peoples.

Twenty Years after the Oka Crisis, Injustice Continues

pinèdeOn July 11, 1990, in response to year injunction obtenues by Oka mayor Jean Ouellette, the Surete du Quebec Invaded the small Mohawk community of Kanehsatake. Four months Earlier, the Mohawk HAD Begun peaceful vigil to protest Against Oka municipality’s plan to enlarge ITS golf course and build a parking lot on the community’s traditional territory. The project’s community Threatened the pine grove and ancestral burial ground. Tensions continued to rise HAD, Leading the Mohawk to close a secondary road-through the pine forest.

The SQ’s attack at 5 AM on the morning on the 11th Provoked the response of Armed Native people. A member of the SQ’s SWAT team, Marcel Lemay, Was mortally Wounded. Police officers retreated in disorder, and barricades Were Erected on Route 344. To Their show Solidarity, Kahnawake Mohawks blocked the Mercier bridge. This Was The Beginning of What Came to Be Known as the Oka crisis. It Lasted 78 days and not only Quebec Engagements, drank all of Canada.

Despite fine words from the Crisis Was Governments ounces over, nothing really changed for Native Has celebrities, and Things Have Changed Even less for the Mohawks of the causes of Kanehsatake WHERE are the Crisis Still Exactly What They Were.

A Threatened Constantly Territory
Recent news items Have Brought this home. In early June 2010 in Montreal developer, Norm Ducharme, Loved Announced intention of calling it the Surete du Quebec to enable Him to Realize a development project Along Highway 344, it was piece of land just across from Located the pine forest Kanehsatake. Last January, Mohawk HAD HAD to protest to Convince the developer to renounce Loved intention of clearing the land.

In the near future, the Quebec government APPROVe May Also Highly Controversial Another project was put forward by mining company Called Niocan. The company wants to exploit a deposit of niobium (an element with radioactive properties) in Oka, one of the territoire the Lordship of Two Mountains That Have Mohawks have viewed: Their over 290 years for. Niocan Has Never Been Able To Demonstrate That There Beyond Doubt No harmful effect would Be On The Surrounding Area, and in Particular, That It would not contaminer the ground and source of drinking water by a number of Used Mohawk.

Disappointed Hopes
When the federal government Established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples – Also Known as the Erasmus-Dussault Commission – in 1991, There Was Reason to Hope That It Had Learned the Lessons of the Oka Crisis and That It Was Ready to Make Some “fundamental exchange in ITS relations with Native peoples. Five years later “, the publication of a 4,000-page containing over 400 recommendations deferral Also Hopes Raised Which Have Led Many, in Almost Every box to bitter disappointment. Has Not only the situation of Native people not really Improved , drank the government’s attitude hardened Has Since the election of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party.

The best illustration of this Is The Canadian government’s refusal granted to ratify the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In September 2007, Canada Was one of Four countries – with the United States, Australia and New Zealand – to oppose ITS adoption by the UN General Assembly. The Declaration No. IS Supported by pronoun moins 143 Countries. STIs In March 2010 Speech from the Throne, the Harper government finally ITS Announced intention of endorsing the Declaration (as Australia and New Zealand Recently Have Already done), drank only ” In A Manner Fully consist with Canada’s Constitution and laws “. This Means That Canada Is Prepared to ratify the Universal Declaration as long as it Does not require” real “any change of policy.

La même Thing Is Happening in the Charest government Quebec WHERE Has Said It Was Willing to Adopt a Resolution Asking the federal government to ratify the Declaration … LUKAS purpose only to the conditions Stated by Ottawa!

photo drapeau warriorSolidarity Is Still Needed

On July 12, 1990, the day after the Surete du Quebec’s attack on Kanehsatake a picket line Was Organized in front of SQ headquarters is Parthenais Street in Montreal. This Was the birth of the Coalition of Solidarity with Aboriginal Which Organized demonstrations on a Daily Basis THROUGHOUT the summer of 1990.

This Active Solidarity, in the street, made it possible for Thousands of people of all ages and to protest Against the origins actions you appropriately Their Own Government and Reasons to be an alternative discourse year. Despite the silence of the great fainthearted majorité Intellectuals and artists of Quebec, a number of Leading Their personalities showed Solidarity with the Mohawks at the Events Organized by Cluster. Among Them Were labor union activist Michel Chartrand (Recently deceased), labor activists and feminist Madeleine Parent and Roback, writer and activist Pierre Vallieres, anthropologist Rémi Savard, singer Richard Desjardins, filmmaker Arthur Lamothe and sculptor Armand Vaillancourt.

People continued to show Solidarity after the Crisis Was over. Were Closer ties created not only with the Mohawks, goal Also with members of Other indigenous nations. Demonstrations, picket lines and public talks Organized Were, and Were Occupied offices, to support Mohawk facings Punishment From The police and the judicial system, and to support causes as well Other: The Struggle of the Cree and Innu Nation Against the Great Whale and SM-3 hydro-electric projects, the strength of the Barrier Lake Anishnabe of clearcutting on Their Against territoire; the struggle of the Lubicon Cree of Lake, in Alberta, Lubicon Against the giant forestry company.

Although the reunification solidarity ITS activities ceased about ten years ago, sauf Have groups appeared, and Other Actions Have Been Taken in support of Other Struggles.

A group of activists from the Coalition of Solidarity with Native convinced That IS IS Solidarity Still needed today. As a result, They Have Decided To Bring The reunion back to life, at least To mark the Twentieth Anniversary of the Mohawks’ strength, and In Particular for the peaceful march to Be Held at Oka and Kanehsatake On Sunday, July 11. We Urge you to join the march and demand justice for the Mohawks and all Native peoples.


Posted on July 11, 2010, in Indigenous Struggles, Radical History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Twenty Years after the Oka Crisis, Injustice Continues.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: