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30, Eagle

30, Eagle

Artwork by Gord used to support the struggle of the Oka natives. 

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The Mayor of Oka, a small town in southern Quebec, was inside someone’s back pocket when he committed to developing the back nine of a private golf course on sacred Mohawk land. And the Mohawk of Kanehsatake were equally committed NOT to sell out. For 78 days Obomsawin had her camera's focused on the showdown between whites vs. native rights. And coming from a white guy, believe me, this is embarrassing to watch - but watch you must! Simon Cameron did not know how true his words would echo through the years. His quote is too long to be the title of this movie so I thought of some other 'alternates.' They may not be as effective as Obomsawin's original but they are frighteningly applicable. "The Back Nine" Spring of 1990 must have been a stinker of a headache for Brian Mulroney and his Conservative cabinet. He wasn’t having much success as Canada’s 18th Prime Minister up until this point and March awoke two lions that would eventually tear his party to pieces - Quebec Sovereignty and Native rights. On March 9th Newfoundland & Labrador premier Clyde Wells rejected the Meech Lake Accord - a set of constitutional reforms designed to persuade Quebec to accept the Canada Act and something Mulroney promised six years earlier. On March 11th, in a separate incident, a group of Mohawk Indians blocked a dirt road in protest of Oka Mayor Jean Ouellette’s approval to build a luxury housing development and golf course on Mohawk land. The following summer should go down in history as a catalyst for the events of the next decade and beyond. ie; Sponsorship Scandal, 1995 Quebec referendum, the collapse of the Conservative Party, the formation of the Alliance party and the creation of Canada’s third territory - Nunavut. On June 22nd Elijah Harper, a New Democratic MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) from northern Manitoba also opposed the Meech Accord, particularly its premise that Canada had two founding "races", English and French, and no mention of its native people. The next day, Harper’s defiance killed Mulroney’s Meech. The victory was celebrated by Aboriginals nation wide. But this victory was short lived as a bigger fight was brewing, not just for constitutional rights but for their lives of the Mohawks of Kanehsatake. By July, mayor Ouellette’s patience had run out. On the morning of July 11th the SQ (Sûreté du Québec - Quebec’s provincial police force) approached the Mohawk barricade of the dirt road. They told the women to get their spokesman. One replied she was the spokesman and asked the officer not to point guns at the children. In response, the officer fired a two gas canisters over the barricade. After this - chaos and confusion; more gas and concussion grenades were launched, a firefight broke out and in the end, 31 year old Corporal Marcel Lemay was shot and killed in the pines west of the barricade. The SQ hastily retreated, leaving their cruisers to be piled into an even larger and deathly symbolic barricade now blocking a major highway.

The Mayor of Oka, a small town in southern Quebec, was inside someone’s back pocket when he committed to developing the back nine of a private golf course on sacred Mohawk land. And the Mohawk of Kanehsatake were equally committed NOT to sell out. For 78 days Obomsawin had her camera's focused on the showdown between whites vs. native rights. And coming from a white guy, believe me, this is embarrassing to watch - but watch you must! Simon Cameron did not know how true his words would echo through the years. His quote is too long to be the title of this movie so I thought of some other 'alternates.' They may not be as effective as Obomsawin's original but they are frighteningly applicable. "The Back Nine" Spring of 1990 must have been a stinker of a headache for Brian Mulroney and his Conservative cabinet. He wasn’t having much success as Canada’s 18th Prime Minister up until this point and March awoke two lions that would eventually tear his party to pieces - Quebec Sovereignty and Native rights. On March 9th Newfoundland & Labrador premier Clyde Wells rejected the Meech Lake Accord - a set of constitutional reforms designed to persuade Quebec to accept the Canada Act and something Mulroney promised six years earlier. On March 11th, in a separate incident, a group of Mohawk Indians blocked a dirt road in protest of Oka Mayor Jean Ouellette’s approval to build a luxury housing development and golf course on Mohawk land. The following summer should go down in history as a catalyst for the events of the next decade and beyond. ie; Sponsorship Scandal, 1995 Quebec referendum, the collapse of the Conservative Party, the formation of the Alliance party and the creation of Canada’s third territory - Nunavut. On June 22nd Elijah Harper, a New Democratic MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) from northern Manitoba also opposed the Meech Accord, particularly its premise that Canada had two founding "races", English and French, and no mention of its native people. The next day, Harper’s defiance killed Mulroney’s Meech. The victory was celebrated by Aboriginals nation wide. But this victory was short lived as a bigger fight was brewing, not just for constitutional rights but for their lives of the Mohawks of Kanehsatake. By July, mayor Ouellette’s patience had run out. On the morning of July 11th the SQ (Sûreté du Québec - Quebec’s provincial police force) approached the Mohawk barricade of the dirt road. They told the women to get their spokesman. One replied she was the spokesman and asked the officer not to point guns at the children. In response, the officer fired a two gas canisters over the barricade. After this - chaos and confusion; more gas and concussion grenades were launched, a firefight broke out and in the end, 31 year old Corporal Marcel Lemay was shot and killed in the pines west of the barricade. The SQ hastily retreated, leaving their cruisers to be piled into an even larger and deathly symbolic barricade now blocking a major highway.

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