Siege on Kahnasatake

The process of decolonizing involves education and healing.

MONTREAL — July 11 marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of what became known as the Oka Crisis, a 78-day standoff in Kanesatake between the provincial and federal governments and Mohawks there and in Kahnawake.

The standoff started when Quebec provincial police (Surete du Quebec) moved in on demonstrators in an area called the Pines – a stretch of woods adjacent to the Oka Golf Club that contains a Mohawk cemetery. The demonstrators had been camping out in that area after the village of Oka voted to expropriate the land to expand the public club’s nine-hole golf course.

“I was getting ready for work that morning,” said Kanesatake Council Grand Chief Serge Simon, who was living in Oka at the time. “And it was really early in the morning. I saw the tactical squad start to organize at the base of the hill. When I started seeing them going up, I said to myself, ‘They’re going up there to kill everybody.'”

“They showed up and we kind of said: ‘holy s___ they’re here,” said Ellen Gabriel, one of the Kanesatake Mohawks who was camping in the Pines. The SQ fired tear gas into the area, and then moved in.

Gunfire erupted.

“All I know is that there was a lot of firing going on,” said Randy “Spudwrench” Horne, a Kahnawake Mohawk who was in the Pines at the time. “You could hear it in the trees. And hitting the bark. And I guess some guys got really mad and they start firing back.”

Thirty years later, there are still scars from the Oka Crisis by Billy Shields, CTV News Montreal, 7/6/2020

Today, the 30 year anniversary of the siege on Kahnasatake, is a chance to learn about an incident of attempted colonization known as the Oka Crisis, or siege on Kahnasatake. I wasn’t aware of this struggle until yesterday, other than having seen the dramatic photo of the standoff seen below.

Famous stand-off during the Oka Crisis between Pte. Patrick Cloutier, a ‘Van Doo’ perimeter sentry, and Anishinaabe warrior Brad “Freddy Krueger” Larocque face off. Reference: Tonelli, Carla (July–August 2007). “Oka, 1990: “Our land is our future””This Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-29. The most memorable photos come from this period, including the nose-to-nose standoff between Private Face to Face (photograph) and Brad “Freddy Krueger” Larocque, often misidentified as Ronald “Lasagna” Cross.”

The same thing is going on all over Canada. Tar sands, Wet’suwet’en. All these land dispossession are the same, based on the racist Doctrine of Discovery, that Canada has not yet repudiated.

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