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.

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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.