The Forgotten Front of the Oka Crisis: Operation Feather/Akwesasne

Timothy C. Winegard


The Oka Crisis is viewed by many as a definitive moment in Native-Canadian relations. However, the deployment of 4,500 personnel of the Canadian Forces (CF) to Kanesatake and Kahnawake during Operation SALON overshadowed the deployment of the CF to Akwesasne over three months earlier under Operation FEATHER/AKWESASNE. Using a variety of sources, the majority of which were secured through the Access to Information Act, and personal interviews, this article examines not only Operation FEATHER/AKWESASNE itself, but its direct relationship to the events at Kahnawake and Kanesatake during the Oka Crisis while highlighting the differences of Canada’s complex internal security legislations. The CF operation at Akwesasne, lasting seven months (1 May to 5 December 1990), has been wholly neglected by scholars in its own context but also in the historiography of the “Indian Summer” of 1990. It is the forgotten front of the Oka Crisis.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.