This July 11th marks the 20-year anniversary of the injustice against the Mohawk
people of Kanehsatake, known in the media as the “Oka Crisis”. The stand off between
Mohawks and social justice advocates against the Quebec police, and the Canadian Army
was over the city of Oka’s desire to expand a 9 hole golf course. This expansion was to
go into the Mohawk’s sacred land. Including a burial ground.
To respectfully acknowledge this 20-year old conflict at Kanehsatake, and the ongoing
struggle that the First Nations of Canada have everyday, the Friday Film Pick is Acts of
Defiance by Alex MacLeod. This feature-length documentary focuses on the Mohawk
community in Kahnawake (also in Quebec) during the events of the summer of 1990.
The film reflects on the relationship between Canada and its First Nations at a particular
time in history.
This historical event shed international shame on the Canadian government’s intolerance
to the rights of Aboriginal people, but also became a message of First Nations’ solidarity
to fight for their land and their culture. And as Jessica Yee points out in her Rabble.ca
article, the Canadian government seems to be celebrating its own history of human rights violations at the G20 in Toronto. Let’s the hope that we can take a lesson learned from the Mohawks at Kanehsatake and persist for our voices to be heard against these recent atrocities.