Will an Oka-type crisis happen at Springwater Park on Nov 11, 2013?

John Bacher asks his question.

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The November 7, 2013 Springwater News front page article:

Will an Oka-type crisis happen at Springwater Park on Nov 11, 2013?
Dr. John Bacher

The upcoming November 11th remembrance day ceremonies which are being discussed at Springwater Provincial Park are fraught with danger. Aboriginal veterans have had a lot of grievances in the past from discriminatory treatment and have as a result, generally had separate remembrance day events. There should be some understanding of this basic reality when planning any activities this year in the occupied park- any such commemorations could be explosive and confrontational. The atmosphere has been additionally poisoned by a botched sandblasting on the memorial recently, which damaged the structure.

The tragic events at Springwater now resemble in many ways the situation before the Oka crisis. In both situations the dangers arose because we have forgotten the lessons of the past. At Oka under the leadership of a Catholic priest, Father Joseph Daniel Lefebvre, dangerously spreading sand wastes (they had buried a third of the village) were stabilized by pine plantings undertaken by Mohawks. The Town of Oka foolishly forgot this example and tried to turn the restored pine forest into a golf course and housing development.

Like the Oka forest, Springwater Provincial Park was created to stabilize spreading sand wastes. While there is no development being planned in the park itself, there is across the road from it, on lands that were also afforested in the past to stabilize sand dunes by the provincial government. Both episodes show the folly of forgetting past conservation achievements.

I have a doctorate from McMaster University in history, earned in 1985 and have taught courses there in peace and human rights there and at the University of Toronto. I am the author of Two Billion Trees and Counting: The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz, published by Dundurn Press in 2011.

October 21, 2013

Dr. Bacher is on the Advisory Council of the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition.

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