Why the 1990 Oka Crisis is being evoked amid the Wet’suwet’en pipeline dispute

Protests across the country in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have led to politicians and advocates evoking the Oka Crisis of 1990.

The crisis, also known as the Mohawk Resistance, involved a nearly three-month standoff between Mohawk protesters, Quebec police and eventually the Canadian army. The issue began with proposed construction projects over a Mohawk burial ground.

It’s a part of the past both politicians and Indigenous leaders say they want to avoid repeating.

Here’s a closer look at the crisis, and what’s being said about it now amid the current disagreement over pipeline construction on Wet’suwet’en territory.

A closer look at the Oka Crisis

The standoff began in Oka, Que. in July 1990, when Mohawk claimed land that was slotted for an expansion of a golf course and the construction of a condominium building.  Mohawk of the Kanesatake reserve, known as the Pines, urged the government to cancel the projects.

When that did not happen, blockades began springing up and Quebec’s provincial police, Sûreté du Québec (SQ), was called in.

The crisis escalated when an SQ officer died during a raid in 1990 after Mohawks south of Montreal blocked the Mercier Bridge.

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