In September 1995, a half-century-old native land claim dispute exploded in Ontario's Provincial Park and left protester Dudley George dead.
Read more about the Ipperwash scandal here.
Via the CBC:
The government of former Ontario premier Mike Harris, Ottawa and the OPP all bear responsibility for events that led to the 1995 death of Dudley George, the head of the Ipperwash inquiry said Thursday.
Commissioner Sidney Linden found Harris did not order provincial police into Ipperwash Provincial Park to remove unarmed aboriginal protesters, but he could have "urged patience, rather than speed" at resolving the dispute.
"The federal government, the provincial government and the OPP must all assume some responsibility for decisions or failures that increased the risk of violence and make a tragic confrontation more likely," Linden said.
Linden said in his final report, released in Forest, Ont., that he didn't believe Harris when he claimed he never made a racist statement about the occupiers during an informal government meeting with provincial police just hours before George's death.
Harris acknowledged during his testimony that he wanted the occupation brought to a quick end, but denied he said, "I want the fucking Indians out of the park," as former Ontario attorney general Charles Harnick alleged during his own testimony.
"After carefully assessing the evidence, it is my view that Michael Harris made the statement," Linden wrote. "I agree with Premier Harris's characterization of the statement … as racist."
Well, I don't know how anyone could conclude that it wasn't racist.
"The provincial government could have appointed a mediator or negotiator at any time, but did not," Linden wrote. "The premier could have urged patience, rather than speed."
Linden also found Harris and Harnick misled the leglislature [sic] about the so-called "dining-room meeting" involving government officials and police, and by doing so, contributed to the appearance of inappropriate interference and a lack of transparency by the government.
Harris' lawyer feels there's absolutely no need for his client to apologize. What else is new? None of these bastards ever think they have to apologize for anything they're responsible for unless they are actually forced to do so and, even then, they only do it because they have to - not out of any sense of morality or acknowledgment of the suffering they've caused. According to Harris' lawyer, "He has done nothing wrong."
The inquiry also blames the OPP for ill-informed actions, cultural insensitivity and racism, faulty intelligence and poor communications.
Linden also faulted the federal government for expropriating disputed First Nations land for military use during the Second World War, then in a series of "successive neglects," failing to give it back as promised.
In the more than 60 years following the action, the Stoney Point band tried to get the land back, claiming it contained a burial ground destroyed when the military camp was built.
The state of land claims negotiations and aboriginal human rights in this country is absolutely appalling. Yet, government after government stalls and passes the buck. The latest affront was obviously the rejection of the Kelowna Accord by this bunch of minority government Conservative non-apologists.
It took 12 years for this investigation into Dudley George's death to finally point the finger of blame where it belongs. There is no excuse for that delay, just as there is no acceptable reason for First Nations' issues to have been pushed by the wayside for so bloody long.
Canadian Aboriginal Children 78th on the United Nations Human Development Index
February 8, 2006 - 1:00am
Aboriginal children, on and off reserves are not doing nearly as well as non-Aboriginal children. Over half of Aboriginal children live in poverty. Twice as many Aboriginal babies will be born prematurely, underweight or die within the first year of life. Three or four times as many babies will die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Three to four times as many children will die by injury, poisoning or violence. Five times as many of Aboriginal young people will commit suicide. The National Children's Alliance Policy Statement (in PDF) addresses this sharp divide in quality of life.
And people wonder why there is so much despair, hopelessness and anger in aboriginal communities?
How could there not be?
The CBC has videos of today's news conference by Linden along with an interview with Dudley George's brother, Sam.
The Ipperwash Inquiry Report can be found here.
The Assembly of First Nations calls on all Canadians to join them on June 29, 2007 for a National Day of Action. Please take some time to read their statement.
If you get the chance, check out the book and/or movie about George's death: One Dead Indian. I haven't read the book, but I did see the film and it is definitely worth watching.
The Globe & Mail has more on today's report.
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