KETTLE POINT/STONEY POINT — It’s been 20 years since the death of unarmed native activist Dudley George by police during the occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park by members of Stoney Point and Kettle Point First Nation.
This was the same year Doug Whitlow was covering a similar crisis at Gustafsen Lake in the interior of British Columbia which the Two Row Times has been doing a series of features on.
Policies regarding the handling of native protests were obtrusive and at times downright illegal in both cases.
Here in Ontario, Ipperwash got most of the attention by media, however, at its roots it was in many ways the same story with different names and different faces. Details of the Ipperwash event and George’s death did not come to full light until 2006 when the provincial Liberals made good on a campaign promise to call for an inquiry into what lead to the death of George. Up until that time, the provincial and federal Conservatives refused to look into it.
Even during the inquiry, the Conservatives tried to interfere with the truth being known. Mike Harris was the Conservative Premier of Ontario at the time and was politically embarrassed by the controversy and did his best to downplay his role in the order to send armed OPP into a peaceful occupation. Harris’ aid, Deb Hutton, for example, had used phrases such as “I don’t recall” or “I don’t specifically recall” on 134 separate occasions when questioned by lawyers for the George family.
During WWII, Canada expropriated Kettle Point Chippewa land for an army training base, but after the end of the War, the land, along with the centuries of burials of its members, was never returned.
Diplomacy failed at every turn for years afterwards until, on Labour Day, Monday, September 4, 1995, the people of Stoney Point and nearby Kettle Point reserves took matters into their own hands, occupying the now vacant army base and a popular resort area of Ipperwash Park.
Without affording himself the time or energy to investigate the claims of the occupiers, Harris secretly told the OPP to “get those F-ing Indians out of the park.”
Much evidence came forth during the inquiry that would indicate an abuse of political power and a total disregard for First Nations petitions for justice.
It also came out during the investigation and inquiry that there was a Six Nations connection to this story in the person of Jim Moses, a freelance reporter [married?]who was allegedly in a relationship to another Six Nations based news reporter at the time. But he was also secretly working as a paid CSIS and OPP informant.
Moses paid three visits to Ipperwash Park during the occupation pretending to be gathering information as a native reporter.
Even before the occupation itself, Moses had already told his CSIS handlers about the planned occupation. CSIS was also told by Moses that he saw a bandoleer filled with 12-gage shotgun shells during one of his visits to the occupation site.
That information played a significant role in George’s death, since, outside of Moses’ testimony there was no evidence of weapons at the site. George was shot and killed by acting Sergeant Ken “Tex” Deane, a senior officer in charge of a four-man sniper team.
With miss-intelligence pointing to weapons at the occupation site, Deane testified that he had mistaken the elongated dark coloured branch, which George was carrying for a rifle and shot George. Mortally wounded, he was carried to a car by fellow occupiers to take to the hospital, driven by Pierre George.
Evidence revealed during the inquiry showed that everything was done to prevent George from getting to the hospital and receiving the treatment he needed. George died in the back seat of the car at the emergency entrance where police seemed more interested in arresting those in the car than allowing George to be treated by emergency doctors ready to receive the wounded man.
Deane was eventually charged and convicted of Discreditable Conduct and ordered to resign in 7 days or be fired. Just before he was to appear before Justice Sydney Linden who was in charge of the inquiry, Deane died in a single vehicle accident, crashing his car into a bridge abutment, causing some to speculate it may have been a suicideconcern and arousing suspicion.
On December 20 of 2007, the Provincial government declared its intentions to return the expropriated land. On May 28th of 2009, the transfer papers were drawn up and signed by then Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant, but it was to be returned to the Chippewa’s of both Kettle and Stoney Creek.
This has created another problem however. Some members of the George family are now insisting that Stoney Point should receive the land since that is who it wasit was expropriated from them and that Kettle Point has no historical connection with it, and therefore, should get nothing.
As is the case at Burtch, here at Six Nations, the government is now waiting for the internal conflicts to settle down to decide who is to receive the land and the recently offered $95 million.