September 06, 2005 14:51 ET

First Nation leaders pledge support for Dudley George family

10th Anniversary of Ipperwash tragedy Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, Media Editor, News Editor NIPISSING FIRST NATION--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 6, 2005) - Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief John Beaucage and AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine will sit alongside the family of Dudley George when former Ontario premier Mike Harris testifies before the Ipperwash Inquiry.

"We stand in solidarity with the George family and our brothers and sisters of the Kettle and Stony Point First Nations," said Beaucage on the tenth anniversary of George's killing by an OPP sniper. "We must not forget these incidents of hate, intolerance and unjustified violence. Questions cannot be left unanswered and actions cannot go unpunished."

Beaucage confirmed that Fontaine, and Angus Toulouse, Ontario regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, intend to join him at the arena in Forest, Ontario for Harris' anticipated November appearance before the inquiry, which began hearings in April, 2004. This is believed to be the first time for such a display of solidarity by senior First Nations leaders at a public inquiry in Canada.

Anthony Dudley George was killed late on Sept. 6, 1995 when a heavily-armed tactical unit of the Ontario Provincial Police attacked a small group of unarmed First Nation men, women, and children protesting Canada's failure to return traditional Chippewa territory that had been expropriated for a military training base over 50 years earlier. Acting OPP sergeant Kenneth Deane was convicted of criminal negligence but did not serve any jail time or lose any pay or pension.

An inquiry was called by the McGuinty Liberals after eight years of refusal by Conservative regimes led by Harris and successor Ernie Eves. Recent evidence at the inquiry points to political pressure being exerted on the OPP by then-premier Harris and his senior advisors to end the Ipperwash Park protest by whatever means possible.

Since it opened in April 2004, the inquiry has cost $11.2 million and heard from 77 witnesses. George became the first Indigenous person in over a century to be killed in a land rights dispute in Canada.

"As the inquiry winds down, it just stresses the fact that our struggle for justice and land rights is ongoing," said John Beaucage, Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation.
"We have to know that the death of Dudley George was not in vain and that he died for a cause that he believed in, and one that we must all stand behind."

The Union of Ontario Indians made a submission to the inquiry that outlined ways to improve the relationship between police and the First Nations and how to raise public awareness of treaty and land rights.

"Recognizing the anniversary of the incident is vital because it not only serves to support the citizens of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point but also demonstrates our solidarity as a people," Beaucage said.

Over 2,500 people attended the Union of Ontario Indians 2005 Unity Gathering and Grand Council Assembly this past summer at Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point in a show of support and solidarity.

The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

Contact Information

  • Jamie Monastyrski, Communications Officer, Union of Ontario Indians
    Primary Phone: 705-497-9127 ext. 2290
    E-mail: monjam@anishinabek.ca