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National Film Board

Rocks at Whiskey Trench

Alanis Obomsawin / Canada / 2000 / 105 ' / English


Yurij Luhovy
Alanis Obomsawin
Roger Rochat, René Sioui Labelle & Philippe Amiguet
Don Ayer
Tony Reed
Claude Vendette
Francis Grandmont
Alanis Obomsawin
Narrator: Alanis Obomsawin

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Targeted mob violence against Mohawks young and old.


It was one of the saddest incidents in recent Canadian history. On August 28, 1990, a convoy of 75 cars left the Mohawk community of Kahn- awake and filed across Montreal's Mercier Bridge - straight into a horrifying mob that pelted the vehicles with rocks. The targets of this violence were Mohawk women, children and elders leaving Kahnawake in fear of a possible advance by the Canadian army.

For the past six weeks, tensions had been mounting. Now, the army was about to move in. A deal was worked out to let families cross the blockaded bridge. But police held them up for over two hours, until a sizeable mob had gathered by the bridge's Lasalle exit, known locally as Whiskey Trench. The cars were then waved through - but they first had to run a gauntlet of rock-throwers. Scores were injured. One man died of a heart attack the next day.

In Rocks at Whiskey Trench, Mohawks young and old remember the terror as windows shattered around them. Police had orders not to arrest anyone - and though they stood by during the rock-throwing, they were able to prevent the mob from reaching the cars and attacking their occupants.

Then, in mid-September, the military landed a force of 140 men on Tekakwitha Island, linked by bridge to the community of Kahnawake. Amid rumours that the army was planning to take the town, scores of Mohawk men and women rushed to the island. In one of the tensest moments of that long, hot summer, a melee broke out between Mohawk civilians and soldiers. One woman recalls being thrown from the bridge by two soldiers. Her hip fractured, she floundered in the water, in fear of drowning.




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