by Mark Vandermaas, Mary-Lou LaPratte and Gary McHale
On the sandy roads and beautiful
Imagine if a future government invested $20 Million and three years on an inquiry into the
On March 14, 2007, two and a half months prior to release of the Inquiry’s report, with the assistance of MPP Toby Barrett, the authors held a news conference in the Queen’s Park Media Studio to release their Ipperwash Papers project – 400 pages of documents showing how residents of Ipperwash were victimized by land claim lawlessness, government inaction and racial policing. Afterwards, they provided McGuinty and leaders of the Opposition with a press kit summarizing the Inquiry’s failures.
The Ipperwash Papers show that the OPP, Provincial and Federal governments allowed race-based policing to exist long before the shooting of Dudley George, and that it was the root cause of both his death and the community’s suffering since 1992. The authors correctly predicted that the yet-to-be-released Inquiry report could never make a single credible recommendation for preventing violence against residents because the Inquiry never allowed the issue to be explored.
The Ipperwash saga began in 1942 when land was expropriated from natives for a military base. $50,000 was paid, and families were relocated to a nearby reserve. An additional $2.5 million was paid in 1981 with a promise the land would be returned when no longer needed. Tired of waiting, natives occupied part of
Victimization of residents began in earnest with a land claim filed against their homes in 1992. Former Ipperwash community leader Mary-Lou LaPratte recounts, “As soon as the occupations and land claim on the
In May 1994, the
The OPP eventually returned, but residents complained bitterly to provincial and federal governments about the lack of OPP protection against rampant native crime. Elected officials wrote back saying it was the responsibility of the OPP to enforce the law. The correspondence offers startling insight into how utterly paralyzed the Canadian democratic system can become when police refuse to do so.
In 1996, hundreds of residents wrote victim impact statements to Federal Liaison Robert Reid who held a position similar to that of David Crombie in
“DND, through it [sic] failure to remove illegal occupiers, failure to permit the law to be upheld, failure to protect its boundaries, failure to ensure safety at one of its military facilities and ultimate retreat from and desertion of Camp Ipperwash in the middle of the night has created a situation that led to the death of at least one individual, the takeover and destruction of public property, terrorizing of a municipality, destruction of property values, and the tearing apart of a community and its way of life.
“Repeatedly, over the two years preceding the fatal shooting of Dudley George, town officials advised provincial and federal government cabinet ministers, politicians and bureaucrats of the real potential for injury and death in the area. Unfortunately, unless real progress towards a solution commences immediately, we feel that more injuries and deaths will occur.”
In 1998 eight natives beat a man to unconsciousness leaving him with permanent damage to his hand. A witness had to call 911 seven times before OPP responded. In 2002 and again in 2005, pieces of two human bodies were found in areas controlled by native occupiers.
The Ipperwash Inquiry, called by McGuinty following his win over Mike Harris’ Conservatives in October 2003, was given a mandate to “inquire and report on events surrounding the death of Dudley George” and “to make recommendations that would avoid violence in similar circumstances in the future.” Ipperwash residents were hopeful it would examine the lawlessness they had endured so the people of
Their hope was badly misplaced.
Next week – Part 2: How the Ipperwash Inquiry suppressed evidence and put
The Ipperwash Papers documents can be found at www.ipperwashpapers.ca.