Chiefs of Ontario – Sept. 6, 2020, was the 25th anniversary of the Ipperwash crisis, where Dudley George, an unarmed Indigenous man was killed by an OPP sniper while peacefully protesting the expropriation of land from the Stoney Point Indian Band by the federal government in 1942 for a military base. Ancestral burial grounds were destroyed when the camp was built and 18 families were removed from the land. 53 years later, the land had not been returned as promised, hence the protest.
It took eight years of advocacy and activism from First Nations and other groups to receive an inquiry into the death of Dudley George and the events which took place on and around September 6, 1995. The subsequent Ipperwash Inquiry was meant to act as a roadmap “for new relationships between Aboriginal peoples and the Ontario Government based on respect and reconciliation”. 25 years later and the provincial government has continued to ignore some of the 100 recommendations emerging from the Ipperwash inquiry.
In total, the Final Report made 100 recommendations in the spirit of these key themes:
- policing of Aboriginal protests and occupations
- relationships among federal, provincial and First Nations governments
- the land claims process
- sharing the benefits of resource development
- consultation concerning Aboriginal and treaty rights
- public awareness and education about Aboriginal peoples
As a result, we have seen the creation of:
- the Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Affairs;
- the New Relationship Fund to improve First Nations’ abilities to consult on land and resource projects; and
- an agreed return of Ipperwash Provincial Park to the Kettle and Stony Point First Nations.
What remains to be done after 25 years:
- Create a Treaty Commission of Ontario,
- permanent tripartite body to deal with land claims and assertions of treaty rights and title
We call on the province to meaningfully look at the 100 recommendations as not a checklist, but as the basis for good relationships which must be continually revisited and acted upon. In the years since Ipperwash, little has fundamentally changed.