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Oka stand-off begins

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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No one is prepared for what happens next. Quebec police in riot gear storm the barricades. There are clouds of tear gas and a hail of bullets. After 15 minutes of mayhem, the police retreat as quickly as they attack. The strike claims the life of 31-year-old police officer Marcel Lemay. In the confusion and chaos, each side claims the other side shot first.
• Five years after the standoff, a coroner's report into the shooting death of Marcel Lemay concluded that the shot was fired by a Mohawk warrior. But the report failed to identify the killer and no one was charged with Lemay's murder.

• Corporal Marcel Lemay was the only casualty in the Oka Crisis. His wife was pregnant with their second child at the time of his death.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 11, 1990
Guest(s): Ellen Gabriel
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Neil MacDonald, Paul Workman
Duration: 8:01

Last updated: July 12, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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