Reflections of Oka: stories of the Mohawk standoff 25 years later

On Unreserved, Rosanna Deerchild takes you behind the lines with the people whose lives were forever changed by the 78-day standoff over a golf course between the Mohawk people of Kanesatake, the Sûreté du Québec, the army and the town of Oka.

Unreserved goes behind the lines with the people whose lives were forever changed

Mohawk Warrior known as Noreiga clutches an unidentified woman as he is taken into custody Sept. 26, 1990 by Canadian soldiers after 78 days defending their land. (Bill Grimshaw/Canadian Press)

Near the town of Oka, Quebec, there is a piece of land the Mohawk people call The Pines.

It is sacred ground to the Kanesatake. It is where their ancestors are buried. 

The town of Oka wanted to expand a nine hole golf course onto this land, without permission or consultation. And the line was drawn.

Blockades went up, warriors in fatigues stood at the front line, mothers and even children vowed to stand up for The Pines. 

For 78 days, starting July 11, 1990,  an armed standoff between the Mohawk people, the Sûreté du Québec and eventually the Canadian army took place there.

All sides stood their ground as for 78 days as the army moved in. For 78 days, the country was transfixed to their televisions and radios as the Oka Crisis unfolded — first in this small town and then across the country.

September 26th marks the 25th anniversary of the end of the siege that was a turning point in the way Canadians saw Indigenous Peoples, and the way they saw themselves. 

25 years later, Unreserved takes you behind the lines.