The Oka Crisis

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This is our last lesson from our injustices towards Canada’s Aboriginal people chapter. It will span three classes. The first class will be getting familiar with the Oka crisis. The second one we …

This is our last lesson from our injustices towards Canada’s Aboriginal people chapter. It will span three classes. The first class will be getting familiar with the Oka crisis. The second one we will work on the assignment to be presented on the third class.

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  • 1. The Oka Crisis
  • 2. The beginning
    • In 1961, there was a golf course built on a portion of native land.
    • In 1977, the Native’s filed a native land claim with the Federal Office of Native Claims about the land used for the golf course.
    • 1986, the claim was rejected.
  • 3.
    • There have long-time tensions between Native reserves and their neighboring towns over land rights.
    • In 1989, the mayor of Oka, Jean Ouellette, announced plans of expanding the golf course as well as building luxury condos all on the land the Mohawks of Kahnesatake claimed to be theirs.
    • As the land claim had been rejected a few years prior there was no government objection to the development.
  • 4.
    • As a protest some members of the Kahnesatake community built a barricade preventing construction crews from entering.
    • They refused to comply and even received support from Quebec’s Minister for Native Affairs, John Ciaccia, who wrote a letter saying, these people have seen their lands disappear without having been consulted or compensated, and that, in my opinion, is unfair and unjust, especially over a golf course."
  • 5. The Crisis
    • On July 11 th, 1990, the mayor called for SQ intervention. They claimed that the Mohawks had become violent along the borders of the barricade.
  • 6.
    • The Mohawk people, in accordance with the Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy, asked the women, the caretakers of the land and "progenitors of the nation", whether or not the arsenal they had amassed should remain. The women of the Mohawk Nation decided that the weapons should only be used if the SQ fired on the barricade and to use them as defensively as possible.
  • 7.
    • It is unclear who fired first, the Mohawks or the SQ. However, after 15 minutes of bullet exchange the SQ retreated.
    • One SQ officer was shot in the face and later died.
    • The Mohawks refused to take down their barricade, so the SQ put up their own, blocking entry to Oka and Kahnesatake.
  • 8.
    • The Mohawks of Kahnesatake were joined by Native communities all over Canada in support.
    • The Mohawks of Kahnawake set up their own barricade blocking the Mercier Bridge on the South Shore, as well as several main highways.
    • The Canadian government agreed to buy the land being fought over, in order to prevent construction.
    • This did not satisfy the Natives as they felt the main issues were not being addressed.
  • 9.
    • Racism was strong from both sides.
    • The RCMP were sent in once it became apparent that the SQ had lost control.
    • It didn’t take long before the RCMP was overwhelmed by the mobs and Mohawks.
    • Thus, resulting in the army being brought in.
    • On August 29 th , the Mohawks of Kahnawake negotiated a settlement deal with the Quebec government. Traffic was again flowing.
  • 10. The End
    • By September 26, the Mohawks dismantled their guns and threw them in a fire, ceremonially burned tobacco and then walked out of the pines and back to the reserve. Many were detained by the Canadian Forces and arrested by the SQ.The Oka Crisis lasted seventy-eight days and resulted in the death of SQ Corporal Marcel Lemay. The golf-course expansion, which had originally triggered the situation, was cancelled.
    • Video on facebook
  • 11. Homework
    • For tomorrow please right up a few sentences on each of these people:
    • Alanis Obomsawin
    • Jean Ouellette, mayor of Oka
    • Ellen Gabriel, spokesperson for the Kanesatake Mohawks
    • John Ciaccia, Quebec native affairs minister
    • Tom Siddon, federal Indian affairs minister
    • Ronald Cross (“Lasagna”), Mohawk warrior
    • Research will be needed!
  • 12. Role playing activity
    • Get into 6 groups of 4 or 5 people.
    • Choose one person that you were supposed to research.
    • You will then choose someone to pretend to be that person and the others will be the interviewers, asking them questions relating to the Oka crisis.
    • You will have one class to work on it and 5-10 minutes to present next class.
    • Go to facebook for more info.