(part one of Ipperwash incident, outlining some of the injustices that lead up to this stand off.)
Tommy Douglas once said, "Man can now fly in the air like a bird, swim under the ocean like a fish, he can burrow into the ground like a mole. Now if only he could walk the earth like a man, this would be paradise."
Yet, in order to reach the paradise to which this man spoke of, first we must confront mistakes of our past.
Past Hatred Does Blind
Over 60 ago in lands far way, young men and women fought to defend the ideas of democracy and freedom. In battlefields that were forever holders of fallen youth and stained in the color of blood, these brave people stood up against the darkness of unjust ideology. Yet, as the years have passed on by, this darkness has been permitted to reform itself in the backdoor of Canadian politics. For almost the last 20 years, this dark oppressive philosophy did not recognize the rights or freedoms of others, being like a cancer slowly festering and growing in the shadows. The rebirth of this political perspective has serious distress on the rights of the people and the nation.
The following paragraphs are examples of how a few provincial and federally elected officials’ principles seemed to be from the ultra fringes of long ago, as these people have chosen to deal unfairly with the Aboriginal people of Canada.
The elected officials in democratic nations are supposed to protect and keep their constituents safe from any unjust acts. Yet, as unfolded in the following, Mr. Harris from the ruling provincial Conservative Party in Ontario in 1995 did not recognize this one basic right of protecting the people. Later data released by Liberal Native Affairs critic Gerry Phillips unfolded a scenario where a situation arose out of ground breaking information which pointed towards “a September 6, 1995 meeting of the inter ministerial committee showing the Premier's Office, apparently under direction from the Premier, urging "removal now" of the First Nation while the OPP wanted “removal later.” (See http://www.turtleisland.org/news/news-dudley-liberals.htm )
The denial of basic rights (life, liberty and equality) were pushed in 1995 to the brink of no return, when at the time of the Ipperwash Provincial Park incident this was the final breaking point, which was caused by neo-conservative ideologies that emerged. “Premier Mike Harris, who was elected June 1995 on a neo-conservative platform, wanted to show he was taking a tough stand with Native protesters. The previous government had relied on a patient, consultative process.” (See http://www.monitor.net/monitor/free2/ipperwash.html)
Still, the cancer had spread like wildfire, as demonstrated by when former British Columbia Premier Harcourt “praised Ontario Premier Harris for his handling of Ipperwash, calling it a "good example" for Gustafsen Lake. Like Harcourt, Harris has shown a pragmatic brutality in native issues. In doing so, they have outlined how the growing neo-conservative climate in Canada might affect Canada's relations with native nations.” (See http://www.kahonwes.com/newyork/arch03.html )
The dangerous climate created out of certain Provincial leader’s out of date perspective on concerns and matters, which directly affected the interests of the people had also managed to slither its way into Federal Canadian politics. Examples of this way of thinking were shown by how the former federal Reform Party leader, Preston Manning’s stance against Aboriginal self-rule, which only further alienated the First Nations people. However, this dark period of time did not remained buried with the changing of the guard within the old federal Reform Party, which was merged with the federal Progressive Conservative Party to form the New Conservative Party of Canada. “Conservative leadership hopeful Stephen Harper was forced to apologize after a congratulatory letter bearing his signature was sent to an Ontario native organization. Unfortunately for Harper, his letter referred not to a native celebration, but to one in the Indian subcontinent.” This letter is quoted as saying, “On the occasion of India's national day, I salute the Indian community for long-standing contributions to the economic and cultural vitality of our wonderful country.” (See http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1077832280101_73241480/?hub=TopStories )
People were relatively unaware of the main campaign manager for Mr. Harper during the 2004 federal Canadian election was Mr. Flanagan, who has penned novels that "dismissed the continent's First Nations as merely its 'first immigrants' who trekked across the Bering Strait from Siberia, preceding the French and British et al by a few thousand years -- a rewrite which neatly eliminates any indigenous entitlement. Then, invoking the spectre of a country decimated by land claims, he argued the only sensible native policy was outright assimilation.” http://www.davidorchard.com/online/media-2004/flannagan-walrus-macdonald-200410xx.html Even, if this position of ‘first immigrant’ were proven true, which it has not. This still proves that ownership of the land should have been under control of the Aboriginal people of Canada.
If these Treaties are not to be respected, then how can we ever trust any words coming from the mouths of any Canadian politician or corporation ever again?
Power Keg of Hatred
So what caused the final confrontation of ideologies of neo-conservatives and the basic rights of people? What can be learned from the terrible night of September 6, 1995, where a poorly lighten night in a description that seems to come right out of a real life horror story? The ending being that an unarmed gentleman lied dead in the morgue.
After this life-changing event, Mr. Dudley George’s family and friend members were alone in the night. Yet, what were the elements from long ago that caused this night when Mr. Dudley George was gunned down in the youth of his life?
Treaty of Amherstbury
In 1827 the British Crown signed the Treaty of Amherstburg with the Stoney Point, Kettle Point, Walpole Island and Sarnia First Nations. The reason for this Treaty was to reward the Aboriginal tribes for assisting in the defense of Canada during the war of 1812.
However, the written words within Treaties of the past could be blurred and not valued very highly by a few as the years have come and gone by. In 1876, the adoption of the Indian Act, “the effect of these policies has been a steady erosion of Indian self-government powers and the right to self-determination.” (See http://www.web.net/~inquiry/brief.htm)
Land Surrender of 1929
Under the Indian Act, the Reserves were supposed to be given the right to decide on whether or not to surrender their lands, which was given to them under a treaty from long ago. However, in case of the Kettle and Stoney Point Band, in 1929 this basic rule was called into question, as evidence of political backdoor dealings were present in the surrendering of beachfront acreage. Under the excuse the beaches were “useless drifting sand, unfit for agriculture.” (See http://www.oxford.net/~onfire/prkclm.html this site is no longer available online at this time )
The political pull from Mr. Gray, the local Member of Parliament, was one of the main reasons why the land surrenders and sales from the Stoney Point Band went through. With Mr. Gray direct involvement in this land deal, and the fact that this gentleman benefited him “financially and politically at the Band’s expense.” Questions pointing towards conflict of interest, and what seem like gigantic case of abuse of political office by Mr. Gray, should have raised many ethical concerns by others towards this particular land deal. (See http://www.oxford.net/~onfire/prkclm.html this site is no longer available online at this time ) When persons benefit in the growth of their own power and monitorial gains, at the expense of others, this directly undermines the ideas of democracy.
During the surrender of the 377 acres of Stoney Point land, Mrs. Elijah Ashquabe was quoted in a letter to Corporal Corless Thomas of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; “Nine years ago our local Indian Agent was sent down here to take the census. When he came to the Potawotomies family he turned around and called them Chippewas. He done the same thing to the French descendants. He said to them. If I put down your real Nationality these Indians (the Chippewas) would put your names off the Paylists.…”(See http://www.oxford.net/~onfire/prkclm.html this site is no longer available online at this time )
If this last point were not enough to draw attention to this unethical situation. Then, the next point brought up by Mrs. Ashquabe, in reference to this land deal should have sent alarm bells off all over Ottawa, in 1929. As pointed out in the same letter from Mrs. Elijah Ashquabe, she stated, “they surrendered 377 acres lake frontage for $13,500.00 ($35.80 per acre) and right over the line Canada Co. land of 2,000 acres was sold for $1,000,000.00 ($500.00 per acre).” (See http://www.oxford.net/~onfire/prkclm.html this site is no longer available online at this time )
As soon as Corporal Corless Thomas of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) received this letter, he should have launched an investigation into the possibilities of corruption and political kickbacks coming from this above mentioned land deal. If an investigation was completed an atmosphere would have been exposed where in, when Crown or private interest purchases Reserve land from the Indian Affairs department in Canada, the final price was decided on what, “one Indian could sell to another Indian for.” (See http://www.member.tripod.com/~ksplibrary/stoneypoint.html)
Out of this denial of free enterprise, there had been a system set up which only benefit the interests of a few and not the Aboriginal people, who were originally given this land in question under signed Treaties by our forefathers. This inadequate amount of reimbursement had created a fraudulent environment, where “the Bands often expressed the view that compensation paid by the Crown or private parties was insufficient.” (See http://www.member.tripod.com/~ksplibrary/stoneypoint.html)
The unjust economical handling of Aboriginal Reserve land by the Indian Affairs within Canada had turned Native-Americans into second-class citizens. An example of this is shown in Mrs. Ashquabe second letter to the Corporal Corless Thomas of the RCMP, where she indicated that she felt ashamed and betrayed by Indian Affairs. She wrote, “ ...the flag and medals and the Indenture of 1827 Treaty was given to our Grandfathers because they give their lives for Canada. At present the descendants of those great and famous warriors are not worth anything to their Reservation - the Indian Dept. will not answer our questions.” (See http://www.oxford.net/~onfire/prkclm.html this site is no longer available online at this time)
Even those, that unscrupulous backdoor political deals were proven in this particular land issue of the surrender of 377 acres from the Stoney Point Band. The land in question was surrender with the local Member of Parliament Mr. Gray, and a Sarnia Real State Agent named Mr. W.J. Scott gained from this land deal. “Our title search also reveals that following the purchase of the lands in 1929, portions of the lands were subdivided and sold to third parties presumably for the purpose of erecting cottages, on those lands. In 1935 the Province of Ontario acquired 107 acres of the lands to establish Ipperwash Provincial Park. Scott and White were paid $10,500.00 or over $100.00 per acre for that parcel.” (See http://www.oxford.net/~onfire/prkclm.html this site is no longer available online at this time ).
The question that arises out of this last statement is how could this land that was acquired for $35.80 an acre rise to $100 an acre in only six years and in the middle of the great depression. When during this time of the Great depression land was being sold for pennies on their values, throughout Canada?
Destruction of Aboriginal Ancestral Burial Grounds
When Ipperwash Provincial Park was being developed, existence of an Aboriginal traditional scared burial was discovered within the boundaries of this Recreational area. “In 1937, when workers were building the newly-created Ipperwash Provincial Park, they discovered a native burial ground which local band councils asked be fenced-off in respect for their ancestors. The government of the day promised this would be done and subsequent archaeological findings corroborated the burial grounds’ authenticity, but no fence was ever built and the land was not restored to native control.” (See http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/dec2001/ont-d01.shtml) The unwillingness to protect this burial ground only brings into question why few had attempted to carry out actions of cultural cleansing of the Stoney Point Band’s history.
Thirteen years later, there was further confirmation of this burial ground uncovered. When, “in l950, the Park Superintendent's wife discovered a skeleton in the Park. Photographs were taken, and archaeologist Wilfred July took the skeleton's skull. Many years later, archaeologist Michael Spence, looking at photographs, determined it was likely an Ojibway adolescent. (The bones were lost in the '50s). There are no more written records.” (See http://www.firstnationsdrum.com/Fall%202004/HisPark.htm)
The convenient losing of “bones” and “written records” on this burial ground within Ipperwash Provincial Park, further point towards the definite possible of a cover up of the facts. This hush up was backed by a report that came out in 1972. When, “a series of test digs were done on the area that turned up no archaeological remains, possibly due to the bulldozing activities involved in the creation of the park. The provincial government says that there is no basis to the claim.” (See http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/cheshire.html)
Throughout history the quest of appropriation of land by the European colonialism has been built upon distortion of the facts. While the school system and history taught people to be respectful of their ancestors, constructing enormous memorials at their grave sites. Yet, why has the people of Kettle and Stoney Point not been given the same respect towards their ancestral remains, as others would give to their own family members?
All Content Inclusive, Copyright © 2005 Reginald Angus Argue (pen name Angus McLeod)