Wed. Jul 28th, 2021

Oka Crisis, 30 years later: Kanesatake’s long struggle for land rights

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The Kanesatake land claim has been described as “perhaps the most difficult” of any dating from before Confederation. Unlike its sister communities of Kahnawake and Akwesasne, Kanesatake is not an official reserve but a checkerboard of Crown lands, totalling 828 hectares in 1990. Here are some milestones in Kanesatake’s long struggle for land rights.

1676: Sulpician priests establish an aboriginal mission near present-day Sherbrooke St. W. and Atwater Ave.

1683: More than 200 Indigenous Peoples, including Mohawks, Algonquins and Hurons, live outside the mission walls.

1696: The mission moves to Sault-au-Récollet (present-day Ahuntsic), purportedly to remove the natives from the temptations of liquor.

1716: The priests propose another move, promising that this time the aboriginals would have a large tract of land where they would never be disturbed again. King Louis XV of France grants three square leagues (52.41 square kilometres) on Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes “on condition that as soon as the Indians leave it will revert to the king.” The priests receive a smaller tract.

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