Bleak tale unfolds at Ipperwash probe
Indian team might have saved George
By Peter Edwards
FOREST, Ont.—Native activist Anthony (Dudley) George might still be alive if a Stoney Point band burial ground protest had been handled by Indian negotiators instead of the Ontario Provincial Police riot squad and snipers, a public inquiry into his death heard yesterday.
“They would have understood that you just don’t go in without understanding the importance of our burial sites,” Walpole Island reserve councillor Joseph Gilbert said.
His comments were echoed by Bob Goulais, an official with the Union of Ontario Indians, who said he’s “sure Anthony (Dudley) George would still be here” if native negotiators were called to deal with the 1995 occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park.
George, 38, and other Stoney Point Indians said they were protecting sacred burial grounds when they occupied the park at the end of tourist season on Sept. 4, 1995, two days before he was shot dead by a sniper from the OPP’s paramilitary tactical squad.
Gilbert and Goulais made their comments at an information session on native policing presented by the OPP for the Ipperwash inquiry.
The session heard a bleak story of underfunding for policing in 134 Indian communities throughout the province. There are 163,654 native people in Ontario, including 79,186 who live on reserves.
Gilbert, whose southwestern Ontario reserve borders the United States, said there’s a pressing need for stable funding for reserve policing to meet the challenges of drug, gun and human smuggling.
Gilbert told of chronic funding problems for policing, complicated by the downloading of federal responsibilities onto the provincial government. Uncertainty about funding makes it extremely difficult for long-term planning, he said.
The inquiry heard that many native communities lack even a justice of the peace. “We need to see an expansion of a native justice of the peace program, rather than the cutbacks that we have seen,” Goulais said.
The OPP is often called onto reserves, including paramilitary tactical squads, the inquiry heard.