Settlers won’t need an army to take what’s left of the land.
They won’t need to disperse protesters with tear gas, to dig trenches and lay barbed wire around the settlement in Kanesatake as they did 30 years ago. They won’t have to equip thousands of soldiers with rifles, tanks and helicopters to besiege the community of 1,700.
In the end, all it will take to cut the Mohawks off from their 689-square-kilometre land claim is the slow, brutal passage of time. As the Kanesatake band council and federal government remain at an impasse over the question of land, more of it is eaten up by urban sprawl every day.
“It is genocide, what else do you call it? It may not be happening quickly but it’s erasing us,” says Ellen Gabriel, who was on the front lines during the Oka Crisis. “Our identity, our culture, our language is all tied to the land. Once that’s gone, what’s left?”
The Oka Crisis didn’t unfold over 78 days that summer in 1990. It took centuries.