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1990: Armed stand-off begins at Oka

The Story


No one is prepared for what happens on the Kanesetake reserve near Oka, Quebec after negotiations break down over the town's plan to expand its golf course. 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. CBC's The National has two reports from the scene by Neil Macdonald and Paul Workman.

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

Did You know?


Find all CBC Digital Archives clips about the Oka Crisis.

• In support of the Mohawk warriors, some of the 10,000 people of the nearby Kahnawake reserve set up sympathy roadblocks. They blocked two major highways as well as the Mercier bridge, a popular commuter route into Montreal. It became a trouble spot inciting riots and clashes between frustrated commuters, the Quebec police and the native people.

• 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.


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