More than a decade after an unarmed protestor was shot and killed during a standoff at Ipperwash Provincial Park, the Ontario government has agreed to hand the land back to its rightful owners, the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nations.
The handover, which will take effect in the New Year, will mean that the park will be co-managed by the government and both First Nations until they can come to an agreement as to how to use the land.
Dudley George was shot dead in an unprovoked attack September 6, 1996, after then-Ontario Premier Mike Harris told OPP commanders to “Get the fucking Indians out of the park.”
Sergeant Kenneth Deane was charged with criminal negligence causing death in 1997 after a court ruled he did not have a “reasonable belief” that George was carrying a weapon. He was suspended, received 180 hours of community service and later resigned from the force.
The election of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals in 2003 brought about a lengthy 25-month inquiry into Dudley George’s death. It led to a report on the issue that suggested the land be given back to the bands immediately.
The land in question was taken by the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War and used as a base. It was supposed to be temporary and returned later on, but that did not happen until now, 60 years later.