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Sharing Our Stories – December 13, 2023

Story told by: Mitch Deer
Edited by: Aaron McComber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Translated by: Karonhí:io Delaronde

Bullets whizzing by

…It’s a funny feeling to hear bullets whizzing by your head, when you almost get hit. You hear, “Zip zip.” I’ll never forget the feeling of the air going right by you, that’s the bullets.

Anyways, once the shooting was over, it got really quiet. Some of the people in the town of Kanesatake came running down the road, a whole bunch of them. A crowd, yelling and jumping up in the air saying, “They’re gone.”

 

Two Warriors read the Montreal Gazette by the blockade created with flipped Sûreté Quebec vehicles PHOTO Robert GalbraithKanienkeháka Onkwawénna Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center

 

But we were like, “What do you mean they’re gone? The police cars are right there.”

They had run away. The whole SQ gang got in their trucks and ran away down the hill.

They left four police cars and two police vans, brand new.

There was this payloader that they left behind and we took control of that too.

We took the vans and put them at the top of the hill. We cut down one big tree and put it on top of the vans to block the road. We made a barricade so they couldn’t get through.

 

PHOTO Benoit AquinLibrary and Archives Canada

 

But we didn’t close the road so you could still get vehicles through. We dug bunkers and organized ourselves. They were surprised because one minute there was nothing and during the night, we set up and were ready for the SQ. We got shit done. That’s the way we are as Mohawks. We think fast and can put something together quickly.

I’m going to tell you a secret. During all that time we started having reporters. Lots of them, maybe 80-90 at a time.

Once in a while the women would come down to give statements to the press.

The reporters started demanding and telling us they wanted to go anywhere they wanted.

We started yelling at them to leave, to go back down the hill with the cops.

 

Reporters and photographers gather by blockade in Kanesatake on August 28 1990 Among them is film director Alanis Obomsawin who stands centre right PHOTO Benoit AquinLibrary and Archives Canada

 

After a while, we let the reporters back up but we told them they can’t demand shit. They only go where we tell them they can go.

We kept telling the reporters that we’re not the main guys. That there were bigger, badder guys, in the middle, worse than us. In reality, there was just us.

 

Media stands at blockade capturing Warriors nearby PHOTO Robert GalbraithKanienkeháka Onkwawénna Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center

 

So that’s why we made them stay up on top of the hill, we had to give them the illusion that there were more of us.

We even made up radio signals and would use different voices, making them think there were hundreds or even thousands of us when there were only 30-40. We knew the police were listening in.

We even made up stories and sent the police looking for things that weren’t there.

 

PHOTO Benoit AquinLibrary and Archives Canada

 

We would speak Kanien’keha on the radio, but there were some sell-out Indians who would interpret for the SQ.

So we had to get smart and we had a bunch of Mi’kmaq come down. They helped us speak Mi’kmaq on the radio because we knew it would take the SQ some time to find a new translator. The whole time we had to keep them guessing…

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