Carrying the Burden of Peace: The Mohawks, the Canadian forces, and the Oka Crisis


  • P. Whitney Lackenbauer


Scholars typically cast the Oka crisis of August-October 1990 as an example of government aggression against Native Warriors valiantly trying to defend their traditional land from development. When a violent clash between the protestors and the Quebec provincial police led to tragedy, the Canadian Forces were called in to manage a complex internal security operation. This article critically analyzes the CF’s involvement during Operation SALON in historical context, and concludes that the military’s professionalism, rooted in rigorous training and strong leadership, helps to explain why and how the CF succeeded in “carrying the burden of peace” and restored order without further loss of life. Furthermore, it recounts how, under intense national and international scrutiny, the military won the “media war” for the hearts and minds of most Canadians through its successful media and communications strategy.

Author Biography

P. Whitney Lackenbauer

P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Ph.D. (Calgary, 2004), is assistant professor and acting chair of the department of history at St. Jerome's University (University of Waterloo). His recent books include Battle Grounds: The Canadian Military and Aboriginal Lands (UBC Press, 2007), Kurt Meyer on Trial: A Documentary Record (with Chris Madsen, Canadian Defence Academy Press, 2007), and Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian Military: Historical Perspectives (edited with Craig Mantle, CDA Press, 2007). His most recent articles have appeared in BC Studies, Environmental History, Canadian Foreign Policy, and Canadian Army Journal. His current research includes histories of the Canadian Rangers, the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, Aboriginal blockades and occupations, and indigenous diplomacies. His website is