Tensions rise as Mohawk activists square off with Oka mayor over development
A real estate development in Oka is raising tensions in the Mohawk community of Kanesatake.
On Wednesday morning, a group of protesters led by Mohawk rights activist Ellen Gabriel squared off with Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon.
Four hundred homes are planned for a plot of land adjacent to The Pines - the land at the heart of the 1990 Oka Crisis.
Quevillon said the land in question has been subject to the development plan since 2003, and that there is no proposal to expand into The Pine.
Trees have been cleared to make way for Hydro lines, and more trees have been marked for removal.
The protesters don't believe Quevillon, and said trees on the Mohawk territory of Kanesatake have already been cut down.
“We’re here to say not anymore,” said Gabriel. “Twenty-seven years ago they didn’t listen to us. They never settled the problem and it still continues today. So we’re asking is if the federal government really thinks, if Prime Minister Trudeau really is sincere, about the First Nations being his most important relationship, then he has to intervene here today.”
“This is not going to go away,” she added. “We’ve been stomped on for centuries and generations have had to pick up the struggle. We want peace, that’s all we want… We are not going to allow any more development on our traditional territory.”
The Oka Crisis began when Mohawk protesters constructed a barricade to prevent construction crews from expanding a golf course and building condos on disputed land.
When the protesters ignored injunctions to remove the roadblock, the then-mayor of Oka called on the Sureté du Quebec to intervene.
On July 11, 1990, the SQ attacked the protesters manning the barricade with tear gas and concussion grenades, and SQ Corporal Marcel Lemay was killed in a gunfight.
The Crisis ended 78 days later, about one month after the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces took over from the SQ.