Native community eager for answers as Harris testifies at Ipperwash Inquiry

By Greg Bonnell, The Canadian Press

FOREST – The sacred bundle of cedar and sage Mike Harris must walk past Tuesday as he enters the Ipperwash Inquiry represents many things to those seeking answers into the death of Dudley George.
But anger, apparently, is not one of them. “His family doesn’t carry a lot of anger, his community doesn’t carry a lot of anger, and our people don’t carry a lot of anger,” said Bob Goulais, who is monitoring the proceedings for the Union of Ontario Indians.
“It’s about the truth, and healing. Our people want to find healing. This part of the inquiry, with Mr. Harris testifying, is certainly going to be part of that healing.”
More than a decade after George was killed by a police sniper as aboriginal protesters clashed with Ontario Provincial Police at Ipperwash Provincial Park, Harris will testify at the judicial probe into his death.
The former premier will face a battery of questions regarding his involvement, if any, in directing police operations during the standoff, including allegations he uttered an obscene slur in angrily demanding the protesters be removed from the park.
The memorial of cedar and sage commemorating another Ipperwash protester, Clifford George who recently died at the age of 85, will occupy a chair in the first row of the spectator’s gallery.
“There is a seat here that is left for Clifford George, that’s very symbolic,” said Goulais.
“There’s some medicine there that represents that gift he brought, the gift of being able to help the community in its healing.”
Testimony from the former Ontario premier, coming well into the inquiry’s 20th month, might not provoke angry displays among First Nations people, but it is being closely watched.

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