Today is the 22nd Anniversary of the “Oka Crisis of 1990”, or the Siege of Kanehsatake.
It was a difficult time when 2 Mohawk Communities were criminalized for standing up for our rights, our sovereignty and against the further theft of our lands. It was a peaceful blockade that did not threaten the security of the public. in fact it was the other way around as the Indian Act, racist and discriminatory colonial legislation put the Mohawk people of Kanehsatake in harms way. Canada and Quebec both committed terrorist like acts against the Mohawk people of Kanehsatake and Kahnawake through the Surete du Quebec and the Canadian Army, who carried out the orders of the government of Quebec, Canada and the tiny municipality of Oka.
22 years later, people do not understand the issues any better than they did 22 years ago. A small barricade blocking a secondary dirt road for the expansion of a 9 hole golf course to 18 holes, condominium development plus the digging up of our ancestors graves to expand their parking lot; this barricade was the work of the Mohawk people of Kanehsatake, not the Mohawk Warriors. They came later in our support and we are grateful for their support and laying their lives on the line along with our community. We are also grateful to the community of Kahnawake who erected a support barricade on the Mercier Bridge to prevent a second assault on our community by the Surete du Quebec. They too suffered horrible human rights abuse at the hands of the Surete du Quebec and the Canadian Army.
What has changed since that time? many things like more public awareness of the issues, history, and realities of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the world over.
There is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and a Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, much progress at the international level. But within Canada itself, assimilation legislation and policies have been reinforced. In spite of an official endorsement by the Government and Canada of the UN Declaration in November 2010, very little change has occurred in changing the colonial relationship we have with Canada as it continues to base its relationship with Indigenous peoples upon the Indian Act.
the Residential School apology is hallow, and has evolved as I suspected, only words on paper, no action to implement the spirit of the apology into action. no Reconciliation, NO restitution for the harms inflicted upon Aboriginal children, and their nations, their communities.
As Indigenous peoples with the responsibility and obligation to uphold the teachings of our ancestors in the protection, promotion of our treaties our languages, our traditions, and our rights to self-determination.
In Kanehsatake/Oka, 22 years later, no change but instead more theft of lands and the implementation of the Kanesatake Land Management Act – an act that illegally imposes Fee Simple on our traditional sovereign lands, an Act which was passed by 2 votes while ignoring the voices and rights of the Longhouse people, and further dispossess us from our lands, resources and undermines the pillars of our identity – language, customs, traditions, lands, our spirituality, hence our sovereignty.
As nations, we require many changes, education of the general public on the real issues, our colonial relationship with the state and amongst ourselves. How? One way is to breathe life into the UN Declaration, so that we can restore, revitalize and regenerate our languages, cultures and traditions and all our institutions that have been harmed by colonization and their Doctrines of Superiority.
as we mark this solemn 22nd Anniversary of the Oka Crisis 1990 – the Kanehsatake Siege, let us commit to making positive changes, take the lead in implementing the UN Declaration in conjunction with our customary laws and treaties. We should not and cannot wait for the political will of government. We must take our destiny into our own hands.
Canada should apologize for the human rights abuses they committed in 1990 and since that time. we were harassed by their authorities, and still are, our privacy was invaded, and we were [and still are considered] criminals/terrorists by an unwilling Government that will not take responsibility for their actions. Canada needs to reflect upon its history, what it is doing today that is no different than their ancestors did to ours, seeing us with dollars in their eyes than as the humanity to respect, love and embrace.
We as the generation who can make a difference need to ensure that the youth and children are not put in harms way due to to the Indian Act and its racist policies that do not respect our rights. Canada must decolonize our relationship and respect our rights to self-determination, it will be a step forward to the much needed reconciliation and restitution process between our peoples and perhaps attain the much needed peace our ancestors fought so hard to maintain.