Remembering Indigenous land defender Dudley George killed by Ontario police

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Indigenous land defender Dudley George was killed on this day in 1995.

George’s family was one of 18 families displaced from the Stony Point First Nation (about 75 kilometres north-west of London, Ontario) in 1942 when the federal government expropriated the land to build a military base. The government had promised to return the land after World War II, but at the time of George’s death, 53 years after that dispossession, the land was still occupied by the military.

George’s family moved back to Stony Point, then known as Camp Ipperwash, in 1993. After decades of writing letters, meetings and signing petitions, 35 land defenders began a reoccupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park on September 4, 1995.

Notably, the park contained burial grounds that the land defenders said were not being respected or protected.

On September 5, Ontario Premier Mike Harris met with several government officials. The provincial Attorney General later testified that Harris shouted: “I want the fucking Indians out of the park.” A recording also emerged of police officers discussing the premier’s view that the government had “tried to pacify and pander to these people far too long.”

The following day George was killed by an Ontario Provincial Police sniper.

The reoccupation of the park continued and by September 9 the provincial police, further escalating the situation, requested assistance from the Canadian Forces, including two Huey helicopters to be placed on standby.

On September 10, the Peace Brigades International-North America Project (PBI-NAP) was invited to “be observers for First Nations people if needed [and] do accompaniment for anyone fearing further violence on the part of the police.”

By the following year, PBI-NAP had made at least four visits to the area.

Camp Ipperwash is now closed, but the federal government still “owns” the land. The Department of National Defence says it will take 25 years to clear the unexploded grenades and artillery shells and to decontaminate the land.

An Ontario Provincial Police officer bearing a weapon rushes toward Tina George, who was carrying one of her daughters, at Ipperwash Provincial Park a day after her cousin, Dudley George, was shot to death by an OPP officer on September 6, 1995. Photo from Toronto Star/Ipperwash Inquiry.

Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe’s statement on the 26th anniversary of the shooting death of unarmed land defender Dudley George.

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