Posted: February 17th, 2022

Terrorists are driven by hope rather than despair

HIST 3721 A4











Student’s Name



Part A: Selecting a Thesis

4. Terrorists are driven by hope rather than despair

People target living in a region that will protect their rights. Usually, individuals hope that the government, responsible groups, and organizations will shield them from vulnerabilities that threaten their wellbeing. However, such has not always been the case as many people, especially from minority groups globally, have endured adverse rights violations from the government and dominant groups. Considering that people end up revolting when oppressed, the affected groups have resulted in terrorism in the hope of pushing their oppressors to recognize their rights. Notably, through terrorism, the individuals demanding improved treatment instill fear and paranoia in the government and other citizens, acting out of hope rather than despair to ensure they lead a more quality life.[1]. The OKA crisis, the Gustafsen Lake incident, and the separatism push by the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) in Canada support that terrorists are driven by hope rather than despair. 

The OKA crisis proves that oppressed people result in terrorism, hoping that their efforts will end oppressive acts towards them. The incident lasted for about 78 days involved the Mohawks of Kanesatake and the community of Oka disputing over land that the dominant group had proposed to construct condominiums and a golf course. Notably, the issue of equal divisions and utilization of land between Indigenous peoples and white people has always been an issue in Canada. During the colonialism era, imperialists snatched land from the natives, forcing them to reserves. White people exploited the territories, oppressing Indigenous peoples. Since then, natives have pushed the government to grant them the right to own back or freely use the lands. However, the government has always been reluctant to honor the minority group’s demands.

The row between the Mohawks of Kanesatake and the community exposed how white people and Indigenous groups have had a tense relationship regarding land ownership. It is acknowledgeable that the natives did not own the territory legally during the dispute. However, the individuals always had accessed and used the land freely traditionally. Unfortunately, the proposal to use the land to construct condominiums and a golf course meant that the Mohawks of Kanesatake would not access and use as they used before. The individuals had attempted to use civilized means of stopping the Oka community from executing their proposal, citing that it would harm them. However, the town of Oka dismissed the claim and proceeded with construction as proposed, forcing the natives to use violence to make the petitions heard.

The first violent act the Mohawks of Kanesatake conducted involved erecting barricades on the road that constructors used to access the land. Such an aspect instilled fear in the constructors and citizens in the region, a target the revolutionaries hoped to achieve to push for their rights to use the territory. The act qualified as terrorism, considering that the concept involves individuals spreading fear and paranoia through violence to realize a particular political or social goal. Notably, the Mohawks of Kanesatake’s determination rather than despair inspired them to discourage the use of the land against their will and interests[2]. The paranoia the individuals spread worked as the town’s residents had to seek the law enforcer’s intervention to continue with the construction activities.

The town’s municipality, which claimed to own the land legally, responded by obtaining an injunction to remove the erected barricade. As a result, the Quebec provincial law enforcers raided the Kanesatake reserve to scatter the rioters. However, the Mohawks of Kanesatake opposed the act. The community’s warriors engaged with the police, leading to the death of one of the law enforcers[3]. The row also pushed the natives, which the media labeled as terrorists, displaying them dressed in camouflage, holding dangerous weapons, to barricade other roads connecting different parts of the province, especially in the island of Montreal. The terrorist acts devastated transport activities in the region. Overall, the Mohawks of Kanesatake remained determined to get their rights honored and end white people’s oppression, especially regarding land usage and ownership. 

The Gustafsen Lake incident also helps prove that terrorists are driven by hope rather than despair. Like in the Oka crisis, the Gustafsen Lake incident involved Indigenous peoples disputing white people over land ownership and usage. Considering that white people have always viewed themselves as superior to other minority groups, they have bullied them in land usage. In the Gustafsen Lake incident, the Seewepemec people protested the land lease at Gustafsen Lake by the British Columbia government to a non-native rancher. Notably, the natives had always used the land for grazing their cattle. Also, through an agreement with the leaseholder, the Seewepemec people used the land to conduct traditional spiritual ceremonies without constructing permanent structures. However, the indigenous peoples erected a fence in 1995 to prevent the rancher’s cattle from disrupting their spiritual functions. By violating the prior agreement, the move fueled violence in the area.   

Prominent individuals joined the resistance to push for a freer use of the land they had traditionally owned and used for their religious ceremonies. Notably, John Hill, also known as Splitting the Sky) and Jones William Ignace, also known as Wolverine, claimed that they were determined to lose their lives in the strive to obtain legal documents to Aboriginals’ land ownership in the Gustafsen Lake area[4]. The decision came after the responsible bodies ignored their peaceful approach to resolve the issue. The standoff between the Indigenous rioters and the individuals claiming to own the land necessitated the deployment of 400 RCMP officers in the area in August 1995. The natives targeted using paranoia and fear among the white people in the area, hoping they would honor their demand to use the land more freely.

The deployment of the law enforcers and military personnel in the area worsened the situation as the Aboriginals resisted their violent efforts to thwart their riots. Notably, the Seewepemec organized themselves into groups under the leadership of Jones William Ignace (Wolverine) and John Hill (Splitting the Sky) to push the governing body to consider their demands to use the land in the Gustafsen Lake area. The engagement with authority injured individuals on both sides. Law enforcers also arrested about fifteen Seewepemec rioters, with the criminal justice system finding them guilty of mischiefs, possessing weapons, and disrupting peace in the region. Nevertheless, the government gave in to the demands of the natives as the two parties held peaceful talks, ending the row[5]. Such an aspect portrays that determination led the Seewepemec in the Gustafsen Lake incident to participate in violence as they remained hopeful of using their traditional land freely. 

The separatism push by the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) also supports the claim that terrorists are driven by hope rather than despair. French Canadians and British Canadians have struggled to live harmoniously throughout Canadian history. Initially, the two groups competed to dominate Canada, leading to tensions that triggered the Seven Years War between 1756 and 1763. While the event devastated both sides, the individuals of British descent emerged winners. As a result, many people of French descent left for France. Nevertheless, others remained in Canada, pitting the government to whether to deport them or accommodate them. Considering their large numbers, the governing body saw the idea of deporting them less feasible, allowing them to stay in the region currently known as Quebec. However, the British Canadians strived to make the Canadians of French descent feel as second class citizens, denying them equal rights. For instance, the government insisted that the country’s official language be English, threatening the usage of French.

The government, which British Canadians dominated, also marginalized French Canadians in politics. The dominant group feared that the individuals would topple their superiority if they had equal rights. Nevertheless, French Canadians have pushed for better treatment, forcing the government to allocate them several rights and freedoms like speaking French freely and participating in political matters. However, the individuals have still felt that living in Canada limits them from enjoying the privileges they would access if they were in a separate country[6]. Such an idea led to the emergence of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), whose members push for the separation of Quebec, the region with the most French-speakers, from Canada. The individuals formed the movement out of the frustrations from the Canadian government, hoping to end them through the government declaring their territory independent. 

The Canadian’s government refusal to hold peaceful talks with the group’s leaders made them see terrorism as their only option to achieve their objectives. Notably, FLQ coordinated violent attacks in the country from 1963 ad 1970. The movement, in a bid to force the governing body to declare Quebec independent bombed several areas in the territory, spreading immense paranoia and fear among residents[7]. Considering the realization among society members that bombs are the deadliest weapons, the movement hoped that the Canadian government would separate their region from the broader Canada to safeguard citizens. Worryingly, the government responded by attempting to thwart the terrorists’ attacks, arresting FLQ’s key leaders. 

The movement continued spreading fear and paranoia among the individuals, focusing on government leaders. A notable event included the kidnapping of the British Trade Commissioner, James Cross. Notably, the Canadian and the British governments have a close relationship. As a result, the FLQ members saw the kidnapping of the leader essential to force the two administrations to collaborate in making Quebec independent. However, the objective did not materialize, as the Canadian government responded by arresting more members. 

Despite the setback, the movement remained determined to liberate Quebec from the oppressive Canadian government. For instance, after failing in the initial mission and needing to liberate the incarcerated members, FLQ kidnapped and killed Quebec’s provincial labour minister, Mr. Laporte. The movement did not wish to conduct the unfortunate act had the government considered their demands regarding releasing 23 of its members from prison[8]. Exploiting the opportunity of abducting Mr. Laporte who lived close to their hideout in Montreal’s South Shore, the terrorists hoped to use him as a negotiating tool. The individuals kidnapped the leader violently, threatening him with riffles and sawed-off shotguns. Under unclear circumstances, people found Mr. Laporte’s strangled body in a trunk of the vehicle that the terrorists had used to kidnap him. The event spread paranoia countrywide, making citizens and the government consider the demands of FLQ serious and urgent.

The movement had also orchestrated the attempted assassination of prime minister

Pierre Trudeau in 1968. Notably, the FLQ members burned cars and hurled bottles and rocks towards the grandstand where the leader sat during the St. Jean Baptiste Day parade. Like the other terrorist attacks, the event led to the intervention by law enforcers, who used sticks to scatter the crowd in the event to prevent further violence. Nevertheless, considering the popularity of the movement countrywide and globally, the terrorist attacks highlight that members have always acted out of hope and not desperation to free themselves from the broader Canada.

Summing up, the OKA crisis, the Gustafsen Lake incident, and the attacks by the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) to separate from the broader Canada show that terrorists are driven by hope rather than despair. Notably, the groups purposefully spread paranoia and fear among the government and citizens. For instance, the OKA crisis involved the Mohawks of Kanesatake engaging in violence to stop white people from constructing condominiums and a golf course in a land that they had traditionally accessed and used freely. The Gustafsen Lake incident also involved natives pushing for freer use of land in the region for spiritual functions. Besides, FLQ members conducted terrorist attacks hoping that the government would grant them the right to separate from the broader Canada, which they viewed oppressive.

Part B

A Brief Report Demonstrating My Work On the Module Activities and Participation On the Discussion Board and Postings to My Personal Journal      

 The module involved different activities and assignments concentrating on expounding my knowledge on terrorism. Initially, I could tremble when I thought of the term as I pictured people suffering due to terrorists’ reckless and desperate acts to disturb peace. However, the module activities, exchange of ideas in the discussion board, and postings to my personal journal addressed my misperceptions and misinformation of terrorism. The different activities reflected that I had limited regarding terrorism, changing my perception and attitude towards terrorists.

The activities, the discussion board’s insights, and postings to my personal journal made me understand the definition of terrorism better. I learned that the term refers to the spread of paranoia and fear to achieve a particular political or social goal. As a result, I realized that all the terrorist acts I had heard of or learned about, such as the bombing of the twin tower by Al Qaeda had a distinct motive. Usually, terrorist groups do not emerge aimlessly but as a result of oppression. Notably, individuals rise to oppose a particular aspect that hurts them, using violence when other means of demanding better treatment fail. 

Also, per the news and information I had learned, especially from media, I initially perceived that terrorists have a negative attitude towards western countries because they are jealous the nations’ development. However, the various module activities, the discussion board’s insights, and postings made me realize that the individuals result to the acts due to the injustices that the elite nations had perpetrated against them in the past. I was astonished to learn that prominent countries like the United States contributed immensely to the emergence of the terrorist groups that people perceive as the most dangerous in the modern world, like the Al Qaeda. 

I also viewed that media plays a double role when reporting about terrorism. On the one hand, the media may report the events to shape public opinion, jeopardizing the terrorists’ efforts to achieve targeted political and social goals. For instance, media usually covers the negative side of terrorism, ignoring the needs and demands of the terrorists[9]. On the other hand, the media promotes the agenda of terrorism. As explained earlier, terrorists aim at causing mayhem so that responsible bodies, such as the government can grant them their demands. As a result, when the media reports about their violent acts, it captures the interest of many people, scaring them and increasing the chances of the government to consider their requests.

The module activities, the discussion board’s insights, and postings also informed me about the relationship between religion and terrorism. Initially, I believed that some religions, especially Islam, radicalize their believers to participate in terrorism, harming people. I had developed the misperception from viewing and reading content from different sources like news articles and movies[10]. For instance, most films include people who practice Islam as terrorists, with white people who observe other faiths like Christianity trying to stop them. Worryingly, I had started developing a negative attitude towards people from the religion, thinking that they are naturally violent. However, I learned that terrorism does not relate to any particular religion or any group. People from any background can engage in terrorist acts when attempting to achieve a certain political or social goal.

Before taking the course and completing the module activities, the discussion board’s insights, and postings, I never thought that I would perceive terrorism as positive in any way. However, I have learned that terrorism is an essential tool to propel society towards the right direction. The various exercises made me realize that people will only carry out violent attacks due to social evils. For instance, when the government denies citizens essential rights and freedoms, they will likely revolt, seeing terrorism as the only approach to achieve their objectives. For instance, in the case of colonization, the colonized saw violence as the most viable and appropriate tool to end their colonizers’ oppression. Notably, imperialists hurt individuals in the countries they invaded by harming them physically, taking their resources like lands forcefully, and eroding their cultural values. Arguably, such nations may not have achieved independence without participating in terrorism.

Despite my view of terrorism as an essential change tool, I do not advocate for its approach in hurting innocent people to realize its objectives. Focusing on the different events that have happened in the past, such as the bombing of the twin tower, terrorism has led to the death of many people, devastating others’ lives. An alternative strategy that does not affect the innocent can help immensely. In the same way, I do not support the government’s use of violence to counter terrorism. Considering that terrorism results from oppression, the responsible bodies can handle the issue competently by always honoring and refraining from violating people’s rights and freedoms to suppress terrorist acts. 





















“Islam is not a Religion of Pacifists,” in The Theory and Practice of Islamic Terrorism, edited by Marvin Perry and Howard E. Negrin (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 29-32.

Gutierrez, Gustavo. A Theology of Liberation, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1973.

Lambertus, Sandra. Wartime Images, Peacetime Wounds: The Media and the Gustafsen Lake Standoff. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2007.

Tu Thanh Ha. “Paul Rose, 69, FLQ leader and seperatist to the end.” Globe and Mail, March 14, 2013. Accessed October 7, 2017.

Norris, Alexander and Mike King. “Defiant Mohawks dig in; Indians threaten to blow up Mercier Bridge if attacked again.” The Gazette, July 12, 1990, A1.

Picard, Andre. “Oka conflict now macho test of wills.” The Globe and Mail, July 23, 1990, A4.

Schmierer, Cam. “Showdown at Gustafsen Lake.” The First Nations Drum,September, 1996. Re-published in Smoke Signals from The Heart: Fourteen Years of the First Nations Drum. Vancouver: Totem Pole Books, 2004, 161-4.

The 1995 armed 31-day standoff over aboriginal title at B.C.’s Gustafsen Lake.” The Globe and Mail, March 27, 2017












[1]Gutierrez, Gustavo. A Theology of Liberation, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1973. 

[2] Norris, Alexander and Mike King. “Defiant Mohawks dig in; Indians threaten to blow up Mercier Bridge if attacked again.” The Gazette, July 12, 1990, A1.


[3] Picard, Andre. “Oka conflict now macho test of wills.” The Globe and Mail, July 23, 1990, A4.


[4] Schmierer, Cam. “Showdown at Gustafsen Lake.” The First Nations Drum,September, 1996. Re-published in Smoke Signals from The Heart: Fourteen Years of the First Nations Drum. Vancouver: Totem Pole Books, 2004, 161-4.


[5]The 1995 armed 31-day standoff over the aboriginal title at B.C.’s Gustafsen Lake.” The Globe and Mail, March 27, 2017

[6] Tu Thanh Ha. “Paul Rose, 69, FLQ leader and seperatist to the end.” Globe and Mail, March 14, 2013. Accessed October 7, 2017.

[7] Lagace, Patrick. “Paul Rose et la question qui tue”. La Presse, March 15, 2013. Accessed October 13, 2017.

[8] Tu Thanh Ha. “Paul Rose, 69, FLQ leader and seperatist to the end.” Globe and Mail, March 14, 2013. Accessed October 7, 2017.

[9] Lambertus, Sandra. Wartime Images, Peacetime Wounds: The Media and the Gustafsen Lake Standoff. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2007.


[10] “Islam is not a Religion of Pacifists,” in The Theory and Practice of Islamic Terrorism, edited by Marvin Perry and Howard E. Negrin (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 29.


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