Jun 18/98: Camp Ipperwash deal signed despite protests



Victoria Times Colonist
June 18, 1998
Canadian Press

[S.I.S.I.S. note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]

Sarnia, Ont. - Members of the Stoney Point aboriginal band, who have fought 56 years for the return of Camp Ipperwash, say they won't be at the table today for the signing of a $26.3 million land deal between the federal government and band officials. "They didn't involve us in the past two years, why should we go over there to legitimize their actions?" said Rod (Judas) George, whose family was removed from the reserve in 1942. The federal government hopes the deal, which requires ratification by Kettle/Stoney Point band members, will end the dispute over the southwestern Ontario land taken from the natives during the Second World War and later turned into a military base.

Hundreds of natives gathered Tuesday to hear specifics of an agreement in principle transferring land ownership to the natives. George wasn't in the crowd. "Deal? What deal?" he asked. "We don't know the contents of the so-called deal. We've been saying for the past two years we need representation, legal or otherwise. We haven't had it. He says natives occupying Camp Ipperwash since May 1993 asked federal negotiator Ralph Brant for representation. "He said 'Nobody's asked me,' but we've asked him countless times." Along with Camp Ipperwash's return, the deal brings millions of dollars in individual and community compensation for the natives. Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart has asked for a gag order to prevent specifics of the deal from being leaked.

But a band source told the Sarnia Observer the agreement in principle includes $12.9 million to rebuild the native community at Stoney Point, individual compensation for band members ranging from $157,000 to $405,000 and $3 million for a trust fund. The deal could also pave the way for Ottawa to try to negotiate the transfer of nearby Ipperwash Provincial Park, where Ontario provincial police shot and killed native protester Dudley George during a 1995 confrontation. But Maynard T. George, who describes himself as "saddened by the process", says there is no deal. "This (agreement in principle) has never been submitted to anyone at Stoney Point," he said. "Why has no one been allowed to review the exact contents?"

He added that the 18 families relocated to Kettle Point and promised the return of their homeland after the Second World War hadn't been compensated. "They were left out because they were of strong opinion to move home. They wanted their land, not money." Stoney Point Reserve, established by the British Crown in 1827, was expropriated by the federal government under the War Measures Act in 1942. In 1980, the federal government paid Kettle Point $2.5 million for use of Camp Ipperwash. On May 5, 1993, a handful of natives moved to Camp Ipperwash and shared the land with military forces for two years.

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