September 6 marked 20 years since Anthony “Dudley” George, an unarmed First Nation man, was shot by the Ontario Provincial Police and died.
He and other First Nation men, women and children had been occupying their ancestral territory, which had been expropriated by the federal government for military purposes. The land was later transferred by the federal government to the provincial government to create a provincial park. This was done after the federal government had promised the people of Kettle and Stony Point it would return the land back to the community.
After Dudley George’s tragic death, his brother, Sam George, called for an immediate public inquiry. Chiefs of Ontario supported his call and staged a public demonstration to call for justice to be served.
This year marks the 8th anniversary of the release of the Final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, which was established by the Government of Ontario with a dual mandate to look into and report on events surrounding the death of Dudley George and to make recommendations focused on the avoidance of violence in similar circumstances.
The Final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, released on May 31, 2007, contained 100 recommendations focused on improving the relationship between First Nations and the Government of Ontario.
In 2007 the Chiefs of Ontario Political Confederacy supported the establishment of an Inquiry Task Force to conduct research and analysis of the recommendations in the final report. It was also tasked with developing a framework strategy for dealing with the Ontario government on implementing the recommendations.
This anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect on the state of our relationship with the province and the justice system. There have been some positive developments since the release of the Final Report but the bottom line is that the most meaningful recommendations remain unaddressed and combined with the fact that the province walked away from the joint implementation process which has caused First Nations to question whether this government is committed to address the important policy recommendations contained in the report.
In order to ensure the essence of the Ipperwash recommendations remains a priority, a Political Accord between the First Nations and the province was signed to affirmed our commitment to working within a government-to-government relationship that would further frame our joint priorities and actions.
Since the 2014 Ontario election, Premier Kathleen Wynne has committed to making transformative change that would see First Nations leaders as part of the decision-making process and restore the Treaty relationship. Under Resolution, Chiefs of Ontario has been working to keep the Premier to her word. And will do so with the Ipperwash Recommendations.
We will remain active and committed to working with the Ontario government in addressing the recommendations outlined in the Final Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry. And we will continue to remember Dudley George who was a protector of our ancestral lands and a seeker of justice for First Nation people.
Regional Chief Isadore Day is a member of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Executive and the Chair of the Political Confederacy for the Chiefs of Ontario. In this capacity, he is mandated to deal with the federal and provincial governments on certain issues relevant to First Nations within Ontario.