THE HISTORY OF CANADA
A series of protests by native peoples swept across Canada in 1990. On March 11 a Mohawk group set up a blockade to stop the town of Oka, Que., from expanding a golf course on 55 acres (22 hectares) they claimed as ancestral territory. On July 11 a force of 100 Quebec police officers attacked the blockade, setting off a gun battle in which one police officer was killed. The Mohawks held the blockade for 11 weeks, finally surrendering to the Army in September. Another group of Indians blockaded the Mercier Bridge, one of the four main bridges into Montreal.
In other disputes over land claims, different Indian groups set up several blockades of the rail lines in Ontario and in British Columbia, disrupting freight and passenger service. In southwestern Ontario five hydro transmission towers were toppled in September. A Canadian National Railway bridge was destroyed by fire. Other native peoples blocked roads and highways to draw attention to their concerns. A group of Peigan Indians defended a diversion of the Oldman River which they had built to protest the construction of a dam that they said would destroy their lands.
On May 4, 1992, voters in the Northwest Territories authorized the partition of their huge area into two separate territories, one to become a self-governing homeland for Inuit, or Eskimos. The eastern portion, covering 772,260 square miles (2,000,144 square kilometers), was inhabited by about 17,500 Inuit. The new territory was to be called Nunavut, meaning Our Land. Although the plebiscite was not binding on the Canadian government, the agreement was expected to be ratified and to go into effect by 1999. Later in the year the government agreed that Indians and Inuit have the right of self-government.
|Discovery of Canada|