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Oka Crisis, Quebec, Canada


The Oka crisis was sparked off by the decision taken by the Municipality of Oka and Le Club de golf d’Oka Inc. to extend a nine hole golf course originally built in 1959 on land that the Mohawks claim is, and has always been, theirs. The 39 hectares of land in question include a Native cemetery and parts of a pine forest known as the Pines.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Oka Crisis, Quebec, Canada
State or province:Quebec
(municipality or city/town)Oka, Kanesatake
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Tourism Recreation
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Specific commodities:
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The plan was to extend the golf course nine holes (39 hectares).

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Project area:39
Type of populationSemi-urban
Company names or state enterprises:Le Club de golf d'Oka from Canada
Relevant government actors:Canadian Armed Forces, Quebec Ministry of Native Affairs, Surete de Quebec
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Mohawk Nation, Coalition for Solidarity with Native Peoples [Regroupement de solidarité avec les autochtones], Indigenous Solidarity Committee of the People’s Global Action bloc Montreal, Kahnawakhe, Native Friendship Center
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Land occupation
Threats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
highway blockades
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Other Health impactsThree people died as a result of the crisis: directly that of Corporal Marcel Lemay, an elder, Joe Armstrong (71 years old) who was hit in the chest with a large boulder and died one week later of a heart attack.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Violations of human rights
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Land demarcation
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Development of alternatives:Land Rights Recognition
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The dispute was the first well-publicized violent conflict between First Nations and the Canadian government in the late 20th century. While the golf course was not built, the land claim has still not been resolved.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Micheal Baxendale & Craig MacLaine. This Land Is Our Land: The Mohawk Revolt at Oka.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Twenty Years of Struggle: A Retrospective on the 'Oka Crisis'
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Leah Temper
Last update08/04/2014