Indians enter the fray over one Canada: Quebec separatists' guns spiked

ONLY days after the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) was voted into office, Quebec's Indians - who, as the province's original inhabitants, lay claim to most of the territory - are planning to publicise their strong anti-independence views. This seems likely to be merely a prelude to tougher action when the sovereignty campaign gathers momentum in the run-up to the referendum next year.

The key question is whether the Indians' campaign will develop into the kind of armed resistance that caused severe disruption and bloodshed in Quebec four years ago.

On that occasion, a large and heavily armed group of Mohawks, many of them Vietnam veterans, protested successfully against the expansion of a golf course on to their land. With firearms and crossbows, they provoked a 78-day standoff in which a Quebec policeman was shot dead, and which ended when the Canadian military was called in to restore order. The operation cost Cdollars 200m ( pounds 94m).

But for the time being at least, Indian objections are still verbal: thus tomorrow Mathew Coon-Come, Grand Chief of the Crees, whose traditional homelands in Northern Quebec are the size of France, is taking the Cree case to Washington.

'I'll be talking about everything, including this concept that Quebec can separate with Cree territory without Cree consent. That's illegal, and I will lay it all out,' says Mr Coon-Come. He expects his speech to the prestigious Institute of Strategic Studies will trigger a row between the new PQ government and Quebec's 40,000 Indians comprised of 11 tribes.

The PQ has reacted angrily in the past to suggestions that Quebec's Indians had the right to self-determination if the province separated from Canada. And the Indian Affairs Minister, Ron Irwin, caused a big argument recently on phone-in radio when he said Quebec's Indians had the right to stay in Canada with their territory if the province decided to separate.

Premier-elect Jacques Parizeau, mindful of the storm of protest that his plans for independence are provoking (he promised last Tuesday that he would definitely hold a referendum on sovereignty next year) has already offered to give the native people more autonomy - a placatory pledge met with scorn by the Inuit leader Zebedee Nanguk, who said: 'No native leader would be impressed by that talk. We want action not words. That Parizeau and those ultra-nationalist Francophones don't have native people's interests at heart.'

Mr Nanguk said he recently became 'infamous' as the man who told the Francophone separatists to 'go and secede' with a thin line of territory around the St Lawrence River - all they had a right to, he said - and leave the rest of Quebec to the Inuit and Cree. 'They got very angry. But at least,' he added, 'the fact we've already been introduced will save time for the big battle ahead.'

The issue of territorial integrity - and the Indians' view of themselves as custodians of a region they have inhabited for 4,000 years - lies at the heart of their objections to the new Quebec government's plans to take la belle province out of the Canadian federation. Several Indian spokesmen for the Cree and Huron said this was illegal and that Canada had a duty to protect their native rights.

Informed observers believe that, despite comprising such a small proportion of Quebec's population of almost 7 million, the Indians could cause Mr Parizeau and his government serious difficulties. Thanks to skilful lobbying, their claims to self-determination and territorial integrity enjoy growing international support, which could add to the pressure Mr Parizeau already faces in trying to push forward his controversial bid for separation.

The other threat further down the road is, of course, direct action: Mohawk spokesman Billy Two Rivers, a former wrestler in the UK, did not rule out 'militancy' and an 'appropriate response' if the tribe's land was at stake, adding: 'If it comes to a showdown at the OK Corral, we want to be on the winning side.'

A less robust but more ingenious response with which Mr Parizeau will also have to grapple is that presented by the Crees: they plan to hold their own referendum on whether to remain in the federation or join the separatists. And their referendum will contain a third option - an independent Cree country within Quebec - which will be discussed shortly by the 14 Inuit communities in the Quebec Arctic.

Mr Parizeau may have his hands full.

(Photograph omitted)

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game