Blockades or Breakthroughs


An important text. For the first time, comprehensive historical analysis of major First Nations, Métis and Inuit-led direct-action resistance in Canada has been collected in one volume. A highly valuable resource to students and scholars of Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations, as well as those interested in processes of nation-building. Weighted heavily towards historical analysis, the case studies [are] ripe for further analysis by scholars of gender, Indigenous studies, Canadian studies, and sociology.

British Journal of Canadian Studies

Can blockades and occupations be catalysts for positive change in Canada’s Aboriginal communities?

Blockades have become a common response to Canada’s failure to address and resolve the legitimate claims of First Nations. Blockades or Breakthroughs? debates the importance and effectiveness of blockades and occupations as political and diplomatic tools for Aboriginal people.

The adoption of direct action tactics like blockades and occupations is predicated on the idea that something drastic is needed for Aboriginal groups to break an unfavourable status quo, overcome structural barriers, and achieve their goals. But are blockades actually “breakthroughs”? What are the objectives of Aboriginal people and communities who adopt this approach? How can the success of these methods be measured? This collection offers an in-depth survey of occupations, blockades, and their legacies, from 1968 to the present. Individual case studies situate specific blockades and conflicts in historical context, examine each group’s reasons for occupation, and analyze the media labels and frames applied to both Aboriginal and state responses.

Direct action tactics remain a powerful political tool for First Nations in Canada. The authors of Blockades or Breakthroughs? Argue that blockades and occupations are instrumental, symbolic, and complex events that demand equally multifaceted responses.

Yale D. Belanger and P. Whitney LackenbauerBlockades or Breakthroughs? Aboriginal Peoples Confront the Canadian State. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, January 2015).


Table of Contents

Introduction:  Yale D. Belanger and P. Whitney Lackenbauer

Chapter 1:       Point Pelee’s Summer of Discontent, John Sandlos

Chapter 2:       The Nature of a Blockade: Environmental Politics and the Haida Action on Lyell Island, British Columbia, David a. Rossiter

Chapter 3:       Lubicon Lake: The Success and Failure of Radical Activism, Tom Flanagan

Chapter 4:       “The War Will Be Won When the Last Low-Level Flying Happens Here in Our Home”: Innu Opposition to Low-Level Flying in Labrador, P. Whitney Lackenbauer

Chapter 5:       A Bridge Too Far? The Oka Crisis, P. Whitney Lackenbauer

Chapter 6:       The Oldman River Dam and the Lonefighters’ Response to Environmental Incursion, Yale D. Belanger

Chapter 7:       The Tragedy of Ipperwash, P. Whitney Lackenbauer with Victor Gulewitsch

Chapter 8:       The Gustafsen Lake Standoff, Nick Shrubsole and P. Whitney Lackenbauer

Chapter 9:       Seeking Relief: The Dispute in Burnt Church (Esgenoôpetitj), Sarah J. King

Chapter 10:     Blockades, Occupations, and the Bay of Quinte Mohawks’ Fight for Sovereignty, Yale D. Belanger

Chapter 11:     Your Home on Native Land? Conflict and Controversy at Caledonia and the Six Nations of the Grand River, Timothy C. Winegad