It’s in their vehicles that the people of the mohawk communities of Kanesatake and Kahnawake have marked the 30e anniversary of the Oka crisis, on Saturday, some blocking the Honoré-Mercier bridge between Montreal and the South Shore.
Usually, the commemoration of this event takes place with people walking peacefully side-by-side, but this year, while the pandemic COVID-19 continues, it is in a car that it took place.
To 8: 45am, Saturday morning, in Kahnawake, on Montreal’s South Shore, about forty cars are parts of the Kahnawake Survival School in the direction of the Honoré-Mercier bridge for the crossing up of the on in montreal, the blocker temporarily.
The Honoré-Mercier bridge had been blocked in 1990, in support of the residents of the reserve of Kanesatake, near Oka, which had started the crisis.
Although it has caused a slowdown in the traffic, the event went smoothly and everything was returned to normal around 10: 15am, according to the Sûreté du Québec, who was there in support at the request of the Peacekeepers of the mohawk reserve.
Shortly after, a few tens of kilometres away, on the North Shore, in Kanesatake and Oka, quebec, over 125 cars on parade to mark the anniversary.
The Oka crisis, with the background of a development project which were opposed to the Mohawks, took place from 11 July to 26 September 1990. The Mohawks had erected a barricade to block the project to take place in a pine forest separating the reserve from the village of Oka. The crisis erupted on 11 July 1990, when the surete du Quebec has tried to raise the barricade, an operation that has cost the lives of its members, corporal Marcel Lemay. The army was then called in reinforcement. The crisis lasted 78 days. On the side mohawk elder from Kahnawake, Joe Armstrong, has also lost the life during this crisis, after having received a stone to the chest.
“Nothing has changed”
To commemorate the event, the chief of the assembly of First nations Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, addressed an open letter to the prime minister, François Legault, in which he deplores the fact that the rights of indigenous communities are still denied in Quebec.
“Although the Oka crisis has sadly left its indelible mark in our minds, it can still be used as a reference, because for thirty years, nothing has really changed,” said Mr. Picard.
“However, the social divide and political, between the First Nations and a part of the quebec population is the result of decades of injustices and measures enforced. It is obvious that to submit an entire population to such actions can only leave wounds still vivid today,” he added.
“When a people deny the fundamental rights of another people on the basis of his race, we are in the presence of racism. When this denial is exercised formally and systematically by a State, we are in the presence of racism and discrimination are systemic. Once again, let’s not mince words. They help us to face the reality.”