Memories of the Oka crisis

  • Antoine Lacroix

    Sunday, 13 August, 2017 08:00

    UPDATE
    Sunday, 13 August, 2017 08:00

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    A real estate project in Oka brings back very bad memories of the 1990 crisis. Hundreds of Mohawks manifest for a month to protect the same land that caused the historical conflict.

    Yesterday, nearly 200 people marched to the rhythm of the drums and chants of traditional native americans to show their disagreement with the project of the area of the Hills, adjacent to the pine forest that was at the centre of the Oka crisis in 1990.

    “They use their laws to rob us of our land, which we owned for 300 years, has launched John Cree, spiritual leader of the traditionalists of Kanesatake. We will do everything to get what we deserve. We have never said that we give up. “

    Already nearly 150 houses have been built in this development which has existed since 2003, which is located on lands claimed by Kanesatake. The protesters mohawks require that we cease the construction of homes on the 30 lots remaining.

    The cutting down of trees to the edge of the famous pine forest in order to bring electricity to the land remaining would have triggered protests, notably by the activist mohawk Ellen Gabriel.

    The owner of the domain of the Hills, Grégoire Gollin, has assured the Newspaper that he never was going to do development in the pine forest.

    “Taken hostage “

    The mayor of the municipality Pascal Quevillon says that the protesters “are misdirected and that it is the citizens who are held hostage” because the dispute falls within the federal government and not the town of Oka, quebec.

    “I find it deplorable that we are caught between the federal government and the community of Kanesatake. They protest in front of the federal offices, not to Oka, ” says the mayor.

    He deplores the silence of the mohawk Council and the grand chief Serge Simon on the protests. Moreover, it has been impossible to contact him yesterday. “It’s been weeks that I have not heard back. Ellen Gabriel is not the council. We want to ensure they express themselves on these protests, ” said the mayor Quevillon.

    Historic agreement

    The latter will meet this week, the provincial minister of aboriginal Affairs Geoffrey Kelley, and will tell him that he is considering withdrawing from the” historic agreement ” between Oka and Kanesatake on the extension of the drinking water supply, which occurred in April.

    “We’re going to do if the situation does not change, and if the claims continue penalising the citizens of Oka,” says the mayor.

    The mohawk Council of Kanesatake has received on the 30th of last June, an offer of tens of millions of dollars from the department of aboriginal and Northern Affairs as compensation to its historical claims, has confirmed to the Newspaper the office of the minister Carolyn Bennett.

    “We can’t say the details since we are still in negotiation. I believe that we are still waiting for their response, ” said James Fitzmorris, director of communications.

    Residents would have liked to be made aware

    Residents of the area of the Hills would have liked to have been informed that their land is located in the heart of the land claimed by the Mohawks of Kanesatake.

    “If someone had told me that there were still doubts, I would never have bought,” says Suzanne Lacasse, just after the event of yesterday. You don’t want a disorder. “

    This last, who has bought his land three years ago, believes that the protesters have every right to make claims, but would have preferred not to find himself at the heart of the conflict.

    “I don’t want to be held hostage in all of this. If I want to sell and that the conflict is not solved, what do I do ? ” asks she.

    “Having known this, I would never have been built, says bluntly Maxime Thouin. But I wonder why they are waiting for the end of the development to assert their rights on the land. “

    The municipality of Oka convened a citizens ‘ assembly in mid-September in order to reassure the affected residents. Mr. Thouin hope to have some answers to his concerns.

    “I too am impacted by these events. […] But it is time that the government put an end to the conflict, “said the owner of the domain of the Hills Grégoire Gollin, which” recognizes the merits ” of the applications mohawk.

    He says that ” everyone wants to reach a dénouement “.

    According to him, it is well known that the mohawk Council of Kanesatake claim all the lands that once were the Seigneury of Lake of Two Mountains, where lie the land.

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