In 1990, ten years after the self-declared "distinct society" seceded from the Canadian Confederation, the break-away Republic of Quebec stood accused of hypocrisy and its intrinsic right of recognition called into question by a violent confrontation with the Mohawk first nation in the town of Oka.
A Distinct SocietyThe disputed burial land had been granted to a religious order by the Governor of New France in 1717. The order sold the territory in 1936 for development and vacated the area, under protest by the local Mohawk community. Then in 1961, the City built a private nine-hole golf course, the Club de golf d'Oka, on a portion of the land and in 1989 the mayor of Oka, Jean Ouellette announced that the remainder of the pines would be cleared to expand the private, members-only golf club course to eighteen holes. Without consulting the Mohawk, he also approved development of sixty luxury condominiums.
All the natives in Quebec should be shipped off to Labrador "if they wanted their own country so much".Mohawks reacted by blocking the Mercier Bridge and Routes 132, 138 and 207. Natives from across Canada and the United States then joined the Mohawks behind a barricade. And then a gunfight began with the Sûreté du Québec, and a young officer named Corporal Marcel Lemay was shot dead.
Predictably, Quebecois authorities reacted with a wave of nationalist anger, and the Member of Parliament for Chateauguay said that all the natives in Quebec should be shipped off to Labrador "if they wanted their own country so much".