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Negotiations at Oka break down

In the summer of 1990, all eyes were on the small town of Oka for a showdown between native people, Quebec police and eventually the Canadian army. The violent clash was triggered by something as simple as a golf course and as complicated as native burial traditions. The Oka Crisis drew worldwide attention, catapulting native land rights into the spotlight. (Note: Some clips contain explicit language.)

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Hopes for a quick settlement shatter when Quebec Native Affairs Minister John Ciaccia walks away from the negotiations. Ciaccia, who had been sympathetic to the native people, now says the Mohawks purposely wrecked a deal to end the stand-off. The federal government finally steps in but refuses to talk to the protesters as long as the barricades stay up. The protest is now much bigger than the expansion of a municipal golf course.

Mohawk bands from Ontario, Quebec and New York State also file land claim grievances. Native people across Canada hold rallies in support.
• Quebec's minister of Indian Affairs, John Ciaccia, reacted to the crisis with surprise: "I never thought it would go so far. Nothing had prepared me for what would happen."(CBC's Canada: A People's History)

• Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Canada during the Oka Crisis. He urged Canadians to pay more attention to the way our native peoples were being treated.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 19, 1990
Guest(s): John Ciaccia, Ellen Gabriel, Jean Ouellette
Host: Alison Smith
Reporter: Keith Boag, Neil MacDonald
Duration: 4:54

Last updated: June 24, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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