May 23/98: Renewed call for inquiry into Ipperwash siege


Free Press
May 23, 1998
David Dauphinee and John Miner - Free Press Reporters

[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.]

IPPERWASH -- The brother of slain native activist Dudley George was one of a chorus of area residents -- both native and white -- making a renewed call Friday for a public inquiry into the police killing as new information surfaced about it.

Sam George took his call straight to federal Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart, who was in Grand Bend on Friday for a native youth conference. "I want to make sure she doesn't forget who we are, that we are still out here and we still want this inquiry," George said. "We think the federal government should put a little push on."

Federal minister's advice Stewart said the events at Ipperwash Provincial Park are a matter for the province to deal with. But she had some advice anyway. "It would be my view that dealing with those issues and settling those to everybody's best interest would be the appropriate thing to do," she said.

George described as "quite interesting" a document filed in the Court of Appeal of Ontario for OPP Acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane , the man convicted of criminal negligence causing death for killing George. It says the OPP riot squad was ordered to enter the park the night George was killed. This appears to contradict previous statements by the OPP. "We will have to wait and see what the reaction to it is," George said.

Others were more direct. Along with demands from several sides for a wide-ranging public investigation, in some corners is suspicion the Ontario government's reluctance to call an inquiry is evidence senior politicians in the Conservative government were more involved in the chain of command than has been generally acknowledged.

Standing near a memorial arbor in the park at the spot where George was shot, Ben Pouget, a native peacekeeper at the former Camp Ipperwash now occupied by Stoney Pointers, said: "Natives know what happened here and now it is time for the rest of the country to find out what the government did and what the police did." Pouget said native investigators have amassed evidence, including large numbers of shell casings, police log books and indications the site was being watched for days before police have admitted -- all of which throws serious question on the official version of events, he said.

Not 20 metres away, Scott and Joan Graham, repainting a sign for their Centre Ipperwash Cottagers Association, said their grasp of what actually happened the night of the shooting has been repeatedly shaken. "The rumors come and the rumors go and until they have a public inquiry we won't know what happened," Joan Graham said. "At first, every time you heard something you took it for gospel, then you found out it wasn't right, now you don't believe anything. You can't decide one way or the other," Scott Graham said.


The new information in the appeal document -- that orders to enter the park came at suppertime on Sept. 6, 1995, more than three hours before the 11:10 p.m shooting -- is really nothing new to most natives, said Bob Bressette, a band councillor with the Kettle and Stony Point band. The problem has been getting the public to listen to the native version of events, he said. "We have been saying all along there is a discrepancy in the way the story is being told."

Andrew Orkin, co-counsel for some George family members who have launched a wrongful death suit against the provincial government and others, said the case "has just become more compelling" as a result of the information filed by Deane's lawyer.

Orkin said he counts himself among those who now believe senior Conservative government politicians had a hand in the events when George was killed. "Sgt. Deane...didn't give himself orders to...deploy himself and 30 or 40 or 50 of his colleagues in the dark to confront some unarmed Indians in a park. Somebody gave those orders," he said.

Still, he isn't confident a public inquiry is coming soon. "I have concluded Premier (Mike) Harris and people at the highest level of government...have too much to hide."

Federal minister Stewart said progress is being made on one front that falls under federal jurisdiction -- return of the former Ipperwash army camp to the natives. "It may seem like we are taking a long time....We hope to have a resolution as quickly as possible, but it has to be the right one."

Stewart said the federal government now recognizes it has to put its paternalistic past behind it and start dealing with natives on a government-to-government basis.

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