The Ipperwash crisis was a very under reported event in the history of Indigenous Peoples. This was, once again, a story of land stolen and violence used against unarmed, Indigenous land defenders - this time leading to death.
Although this event took place in 1995, it started long before then. During World War II, when reserve land seemed to be the most desired location to set up a military camp (a common practise during WW II). The Stoney Point First Nation refused to allow this, as this was sacred land and a burial ground (sound familiar?). Because of the War Measures Act, the government of Canada took the land anyway. The Stoney Point First Nations were financially compensated and promised the return of the land after the war. In a shocking turn of event, the government refused to repatriate the land. I know, we are all so very surprised by this.
Fast forward to 1993. The people who actually have a right to this land decided to start reoccupation. In 1995, there were approximately 30 band members of all ages that fully occupied what was now called Camp Ipperwash. Thirty adults and children, unarmed, on their rightful land. As in events past and future, these peaceful land defenders had the police come at them like they were a dangerous mob. The Ontario government wanted them off the land as quickly as possible and sent the OPP in on a night raid. During this, a young Anishinaabe man, Dudley George, was shot by an OPP sniper. I know that sounds devastating enough, but, believe it or not, it gets worse. His family went to rush him to hospital and were stopped and arrested by the OPP.
George died on September 7th, 1995.
It took until 2003 for an inquiry to be started into Dudley’s death and the findings were horrific.
The racism and complete disregard for Indigenous people by the OPP was apparent through this inquiry. In the end, “The Inquiry concluded that the OPP, the provincial government, and the federal government all bore some responsibility to the event. The Inquiry made further recommendations including, among others, that public education about land claim issues should be prioritized, an impartial body oversee land claims settlements, the OPP create a formal process to consult with Aboriginal organizations in regard to land claims issues, and an Ontario Aboriginal Reconciliation Fund be established by the provincial government. In June 2007, an Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs was established” (UBC).
To date, the land has still not been given back to the rightful keepers.