Skip to main content

A Mohawk flag draped over the abandoned Canadian border station just outside Cornwall on the Akwesasne territory.John Morstad for the Globe and Mai

More than five years after the Canadian army listed radical first nations along with various international terrorist organizations in a manual, the government is set to issue an apology, according to media reports.

The apology is due out in the new year, and officials are still working out the details of exactly when and how it will be delivered.

The draft counter-insurgency manual, prepared in September 2005 and apparently circulated to army units for training, was released publicly in early 2007 after an access-to-information request.

"The rise of radical Native American organizations, such as the Mohawk Warrior Society, can be viewed as insurgencies with specific and limited aims," it read. "Although they do not seek complete control of the federal government, they do seek particular political concessions in their relationship with national governments and control (either overt or covert) of political affairs at a local/reserve ('First Nation') level, through the threat of, or use of, violence."

A few pages later, the manual listed other examples of insurgents, including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Tamil Tigers.

The document was immediately decried by aboriginal leaders, who bristled at the implication that first nations were possible adversaries for the military.

The government was quick to say that the reference to native groups would not appear in the final version of the manual and that it had merely been intended to illustrate examples of past insurgencies. The Mohawk Warrior Society took part in the 1990 Oka standoff between police, military and aboriginal groups in Quebec.

Some first nations groups, however, continued to campaign for a full retraction of the statement and an apology.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the Canadian Forces to agree, or how long the apology has been in the works.