injusticebusters logo

Dudley George

Lawyer calls for release of 'explosive' Ipperwash tape

Dudley George

TORONTO - Explosive new evidence "fundamentally explains" why police shot and killed an unarmed aboriginal protester nine years ago and should be released immediately, a lawyer for the dead man's brother said Friday.

However, Murray Klippenstein said he couldn't release the audio tape because it was given to the public inquiry looking into the killing and he had signed a confidentiality agreement.

But Mr. Klippenstein said the evidence was too important to be kept secret, so he intends to ask the inquiry to allow the material to be made public now.

He said the evidence had been "concealed from the family, the courts and the public for nine years" but would provide answers long sought by the family of the dead man.

"We believe [the material] is fundamental to understanding the death of Dudley George," Mr. Klippenstein said.

Such an understanding is at the heart of what the inquiry under Justice Sidney Linden is hoping to achieve.

Ontario provincial police killed George in September 1995 when they moved in on a group of unarmed aboriginal protesters occupying Ipperwash provincial park on Lake Huron.

There were immediate questions about the circumstances of the killing, which ultimately led to a criminal conviction against the officer who pulled the trigger.

There were also allegations, always strenuously denied, that police acted the way they did under pressure from former Conservative premier Mike Harris and his government. A tortuous lawsuit against Mr. Harris filed by some in the dead man's family was dropped last fall when the new Liberal government called the public inquiry.

Mr. Harris will be a witness at the hearings, most of which are being held in the town of Forest in southwestern Ontario.

Sam George, the brother of the slain protester, said he had heard the tape and found its contents disturbing.

"The taped evidence that I heard saddened me. It also frightened me," he said. "What I have now heard goes a long way to explaining why my brother Dudley was killed."

Mr. George and his lawyers say it's now obvious why the tape remained secret for so long and raised the possibility that criminal proceedings could flow from its suppression.

The tape was released to all parties involved in the hearing under the same confidentiality rules.

Mr. Klippenstein said the contents would come out at the inquiry, which is now in its early stages. But he said they were too important to be withheld until then.


Secrecy part of native land deals, inquiry told

Dudley George

FOREST, ON -- Secrecy, bumbling and backroom dealing were part of the manoeuvres that ended with natives giving up prime beach-front property for a fraction of its market value, the Ipperwash Inquiry heard yesterday. The 1920s transactions, which included the land where native protester Dudley George was fatally shot by an OPP officer, are important, said George family lawyer Murray Klippenstein.

"Dudley knew when he was protesting that they had been incredibly ripped off by an Indian agent who was implementing the government policy of trying to get these lands," Klippenstein said in an interview.

The land deals were detailed at the inquiry by Joan Holmes, an anthropologist hired by the inquiry commission to examine the history of the Kettle and Stony Point natives.

In the first land deal, A. MacKenzie Crawford and Co. of Sarnia, with the backing of the area MP, proposed to the Indian agent for the reserve that two lots at Kettle Point be sold for a club house and summer cottages.

The agent, Thomas Paul, immediately recommended the application, arguing the land with its white drifting sand was worthless to the Indians. The natives were offered $85 an acre for the 83 acres.

But before the land was legally surrendered by the natives, part of it was resold at $300 an acre. And when a competing offer was made, the bidder was made a partner with the original buyer.

Holmes testified there was immediate opposition within the native community, with accusations of fraud and bribery when a majority of men on the reserve voted to sell. Some natives hired a lawyer and tried to have the deal stopped, but the federal government approved it anyway.

A second prime stretch of beach property on the Stony Point reserve was bought two years later with a similar blessing from the Indian agent. But in that case, the 377 acres were sold to Sarnia real estate agent W. J. Scott for even less -- $35 an acre.

"Dudley died because the federal government was knowingly ripping off the First Nations for the land which the federal government had said we are guaranteeing to you in perpetuity."

When natives opposed to the deal at the time asked to see an actual copy of the surrender, the federal government refused to give them a copy.

Holmes said that was typical treatment of natives by the government.

The Kettle Point and Stony Point First Nation tried to have the land deal overturned in 1992, but lost in the Supreme Court of Canada.

The federal Land Claims Commission agreed, however, that the federal government failed to live up to its obligations to protect the financial interests of the band and recommended they negotiate a settlement. But the government has made no move, Holmes said.

In its decision, the commission said the deal went ahead only because of "bumbling and backroom dealing."


Chrétien warned in '72 of Ipperwash struggle
Former PM knew of Chippewa burial grounds

Tories argued there was no evidence of them

FOREST, ON, - Former prime minister Jean Chrétien warned the federal government more than two decades before the 1995 Ipperwash crisis that officials had to start respecting Chippewa burial grounds around Ipperwash Provincial Park on Lake Huron, or face native protests.

The comments came in a formerly confidential federal memo presented by expert witness Joan Holmes yesterday in the public inquiry into the Sept. 6, 1995 shooting of native protester Anthony (Dudley) George by an Ontario Provincial Police officer.

George was shot dead during a protest by natives who occupied the park at the end of tourist season, saying they were protecting sacred burial lands.

Seven police officers opened fire in the late-night confrontation. A judge later ruled that all of the protesters were unarmed.

The provincial government of then premier Mike Harris has always denied the existence of burial grounds in the park.

However, Holmes, an anthropologist hired by the Ipperwash inquiry, said the existence of native burial grounds at Ipperwash was no secret.

She said Chrétien became interested in the dispute in 1970, when he was Indian affairs minister, and that he warned the defence minister in a 1972 confidential memo:

"It seems to me that the Indian people involved have a legitimate grievance. They did not agree to surrender the land in the first place, but it was appropriated in the national interest prevailing in 1942.

"It is now 1972, and they have not got it back. Yet they desperately need to improve the band's social and economic position. In addition, there is their deeply rooted reverence for land and their tribal attachment to it.

"They have waited patiently for action," Chrétien continued.

"There are signs, however, that they will soon run out of patience," Chrétien wrote. "There is bound to be adverse publicity about our seeming apathy and reluctance to make a just settlement. They may well resort to the same tactics as those employed by the St. Regis Indians at Loon and Stanley Islands in 1970 - to occupy the lands they consider to be theirs...."

Holmes also quoted from several documents sent to the provincial government regarding native concerns about the burial grounds at the park.

Her references included an excerpt from a letter from the federal Indian affairs branch to the Ontario deputy minister of lands and forests, W.C. Cain, dated Aug. 17, 1937.

That memo read, "On the 13th of this month, the Council of the Kettle and Stony Point Bands passed a resolution requesting this Department to bring the matter to your attention with a view to having this old Indian burial ground preserved intact and properly fenced.

"The request will, I am sure, appear to you as entirely reasonable and I should be glad if you would see that the necessary action is taken with a view to meeting of wishes of these Indians," T.R. MacInnes continued.

As late as November, 2002, the Harris government said it didn't accept government papers provided by the Indian affairs department that stated natives were protecting a sacred burial ground the night of the fatal shooting on Sept. 6, 1995.

That argument came in a court brief filed for a hearing on the wrongful death suit by the George family against Harris, former attorney-general Charles Harnick, former natural resources minister Chris Hodgson, former OPP commissioner Thomas O'Grady and others.

The lawsuit was dropped when the current provincial Liberal government called an inquiry into the shooting.

George and other Stoney Point natives entered the park Sept. 4, 1995. Their position that it contained sacred burial grounds was supported by then Indian affairs minister Ron Irwin, who produced correspondence between the Ontario and federal governments that referred to burial grounds.

Documents obtained by the Star in 2000 under the Freedom of Information Act suggested that former provincial minister of natural resources John Snobelen ignored warnings from within his own department when he told the Legislature a study had unearthed no evidence of a native burial ground at Ipperwash.

Under questioning in the Legislature on June 2, 1998, Snobelen referred to a 1972 provincial government report to argue there was no burial ground.

"(We) have an archeological survey of Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1972," Snobelen told the Legislature. "That report indicated that there were no finds made and recommended that no further archaeological work of any kind be carried out there."

However, documents obtained by the Star under the Freedom of Information Act include a warning from a Ministry of Natural Resources officer, dated Sept. 12, 1995, which was attached to the three-page 1972 report.

"A few comments concerning the value of this report: The methodology used at the time (1972) does not agree with current archeological survey standards," the memo states.


Political, police boundaries ill defined
Issues explored prior to Ipperwash inquiry

Police independence called a tricky issue

Political interference in the policing of protests is fraught with dangers, the commission of inquiry into the police shooting of native protester Dudley George has been warned.

"The danger here is that the politicians may be tougher on protest than the police," University of Toronto law Professor Kent Roach told a symposium yesterday on police independence co-sponsored by the inquiry and the Osgoode Hall Law School. "There is also a danger that it may be impossible for the government to divorce partisan from public-interest concerns."

"For example, governments to the right of centre may conclude that it is in the public interest to be tough on labour, anti-globalization and aboriginal protest, while governments to the left of centre may conclude that it is in the public interest to be tough on anti-abortion, anti-gun-control, and anti-gay-rights protest," Roach said.

The commission was set up by Premier Dalton McGuinty to look into the circumstances of George's death on Sept. 6, 1995, while he and others were protesting the desecration of ancestral burial grounds in Ipperwash Provincial Park.

It's hoped that it will make recommendations that would avoid violence in similar circumstances.

Linden will begin hearing evidence July 13.

Roach and five other academics had been asked to provide the inquiry, headed by Ontario Court Justice Sidney B. Linden, with theoretical papers that would help clarify the degree to which police are required to be free from political control in Canada.

The authors were prohibited from speculating on what actually happened at Ipperwash.

A common thread in all of the papers is that, despite the importance of the issue of police independence, it has not been clearly defined in Canadian law - and that a balance must be found between preserving police independence and providing public accountability.

Also yesterday, during a panel discussion, Tonita Murray, director general of the Canadian Police College, said police are coming under increasing pressure from civilians who do not understand the responsibilities of police officers - to the extent that "lack of independence" threatens to become the norm rather than the exception in Canadian policing.

Murray also said the situation had disintegrated to the extent that police governance "may well be in crisis," that "some police suspicion of governance is not always misplaced," and that police are unduly suspicious "of even legitimate political direction."

Another police viewpoint was provided by former RCMP commissioner Robert Simmonds, who said police have to stand up to politicians who attempt to interfere in tactical matters.

"It's up to the police, not the politicians," Simmonds said. "If there is any attempt to interfere, they (the politicians) should step aside."

Simmonds said it was important to clarify the boundaries of police independence now, as the inquiry is attempting to do, instead of waiting until the next incident where things go wrong.


On the way toward truth

WASHAGAMIS BAY FIRST NATION - There's no sign announcing the importance of the one-room cabin among the spruce and cedar trees, which looks like any other on this tiny (population 188) northwestern Ontario reserve near Kenora.

The squat building has no electricity, no running water, and could easily pass for a shack to an outsider. However, it's a special place to native people from across Ontario and the northern United States, and some as far south as Florida.

It's used for traditional Ojibwe sweat-lodge healing ceremonies and is considered so sacred that elder Thomas White, 57, doesn't want it photographed, or any pictures taken of sacred objects inside, such as a stag's skull, rattle or an eagle's wing.

"I don't want to kill the meaning of the ceremony," White says gently. "It's not for show. It's for healing."

White, 57, won't call himself a healer or a spiritualist or an elder, but plenty of others do. Among those who have travelled north for White's ceremonies are Maynard "Sam" George, 51, older brother of slain native activist Anthony "Dudley" George.

White is one of dozens of native and non-native faith leaders who have quietly supported George in his push for a public inquiry into the death of his brother, who was shot dead by the Ontario Provincial Police on Sept. 6, 1995, at Ipperwash Provincial Park.

The public inquiry into the Ipperwash violence begins hearing witnesses in Forest, near Ipperwash, next Saturday.

Sam George has also worked for a scholarship fund in the name of his brother, with the aid of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto union.

This year's winner, announced June 21 - on National Aboriginal Day - is the elementary school in the community of Kettle and Stoney Point, where George works as a youth counsellor.

White says he immediately realized something was very wrong the first time he saw Sam George at a healing ceremony in Northern Ontario a couple of years after the shooting death.

"It was like he was an empty shell," White says. "He didn't have that sense of humour that he has. Spiritually, he was empty. Something wasn't there."

Since that first meeting, George has made several trips 1,800 kilometres north from his home in Kettle Point.

As White sees it, he doesn't heal anyone. Spirits use him to transfer strength to others.

"Whoever is alive has a spirit," White says.

"A lot of people will think the spirits can't help them because they can't see them. They need something physical. ... We're taught to believe that we all have helpers - spirit helpers. The outside ones call them guardian angels."

Those spirits helped save Sam George, White says. "I don't think he would have survived if he didn't seek spiritual health."

Dozens of faith groups, from traditional Ojibwe like White to Quakers, Mennonites, Catholics, Anglicans, Unitarians, the United Church, Jews and Muslims, have also quietly supported Sam George for years in his call for an inquiry into Dudley's death.

None prayed longer or harder than Rick Bauman, of Mennonite Central Committee in Kitchener. Like White, he has also chosen to stay mostly in the background.

In 1993, two years before the shooting, Bauman heard how Stoney Point natives had been forcibly removed from the Ipperwash area on Lake Huron back in 1942, during the height of World War II. They were told that their land was needed for a military base, and that they'd get their homes back as soon as the war was over.

By 1993, those promises still hadn't been honoured, and Dudley George and some of his friends felt they had waited long enough. They moved back on to the military base, camping alongside soldiers in training.

The base remained Dudley George's home until his death. When Bauman heard the story of the Stoney Pointe natives, it reminded him of the persecuted roots of his own denomination.

Natives were also upset that burial grounds in Ipperwash Provincial Park, which adjoins the military base, were not fenced off, and that there were horseshoe pits on one gravesite.

"Mennonites have been very conscious of land and access to land and freedom to be on land," Bauman says at his Kitchener office.

Bauman and others in the peace and development organization frequently visited Stoney Point, and one of the Mennonites helped George's sister, Carolyn Cully, plant a potato patch.

Bauman has fond memories of Dudley George.

"I had corn soup in his trailer," he recalls. While he remembers Dudley as "kind of a clownish character," he was also clearly part of something bigger.

Dudley George wasn't a leader and he didn't make eloquent speeches, but he was clearly connected to the community and the land, Bauman says. "What was important about Dudley was his being part of this community of people that was bigger than its own individual interests."

Bauman remembers crying when he heard on the radio that Dudley George had been shot the night dozens of officers marched on the park. At first, the police said George had fired on them, but a court later found that he and the two-dozen other Stoney Pointers present were unarmed when seven officers opened fire that night.

Bauman still gets emotional when he remembers hearing the news on the radio.

"I thought, `It has come to this now.' ... We wanted to believe that there was a way through this. That it was negotiable and somehow it had all come down to this crucible where an issue that was by then 50 years old was going to get working out in a matter of 10 seconds in the sand. And there was no reason for it."

Bauman and others connected with Mennonite Central Committee were among the thousands of mourners who attended George's funeral. Later, when he watched news footage of the event, Bauman noticed that the Mennonites were the only white faces in sight.

"After the funeral, we realized that we had been walking on pretty sacred ground," Bauman recalls. "A gift was given to us that we were allowed inside."

Bauman refers to the Bible when asked why the push for the inquiry led by Sam George was able to last so many years.

"It's a biblical image," Bauman says. "`Let justice roll like a mighty river.' You can't stop it."

George says it gave him comfort to know others were praying for him.

"When you run into people like Rick Bauman, it gives you that reassurance to know you're on the right track," George says. "It's good to know you're not alone."

Thomas White and Sam George consider each other good friends now, even though the 18-hour drive between their communities limits how often they can meet face-to-face. George jokingly calls White "Akiwenwenzi Kiawatin no" or "Old Man from the North," while White calls George, "Akiwenwenzi Shawanoo," or "Old Man from the South."

White gave George the "Thunderbird Drum" that he often brings with him in his car trunk. The drum is used to summon what natives consider the heartbeat of Mother Earth and positive spirits in healing ceremonies, and George is respected in native communities around the province as a drum carrier.

It's believed that storms follow when the thunderbird flies overhead from the west, but that those storms are also accompanied by healing, cleansing rain.

Often, White and George speak on the phone about George's sometimes dark, puzzling dreams involving his brother's death.

Other times, they tease each other with Viagra jokes.

"Sometimes I can feel pretty down - and he'll phone," Sam George says.

"He just senses it and he phones. Or we don't talk to each other for a while. One or the other will phone to see what's happening ... and we end up talking - we might talk for two hours on the telephone."

White can take a dream "and put that into perspective so we can move along with it positively," George says. "He says, `You never deal with the negative parts of it - or you run into negativity. Always find something good out of bad. Turn it into something positive and you move forward with it.'"

George says the public inquiry is needed to explain why the officers were sent to the park and to prevent similar tragedies. He hopes it will answer questions about whether the former Progressive Conservative government pressured police to get tough with the Stoney Pointers.

It has nothing to do with anger, he says.

"This happened to us, but it could also very well happen to you, so let's try to prevent that from happening to anybody, whether they're native or not native. And so we build. That's a positive move."

There were several times after Dudley's death when Sam felt badly in need of spiritual support. He gave literally hundreds of speeches in union halls, schools and church basements on the need for an inquiry, and had to deal with the stress of time away from his family. The stress rose when a government lawyer called him a terrorist, despite the court's finding that the natives were unarmed.

There was also constant worry that years of pro-bono work by his lawyer, Murray Klippenstein, might drive Klippenstein bankrupt.

Those were times when he sorely needed to fill himself up with White's positive message.

"I believe that when something is taken away it leaves an empty spot," George says. "So you have to find something to fill that up - so that emptiness isn't always there. ... I said, `We're going to find out the truth because that truth will fill in that empty spot. ... We have a reason for being here - and we have to look for that.'"

Soon after the shooting, Sam George launched a wrongful-death lawsuit against former premier Mike Harris and several members of the government and police. He said he'd drop it if a public inquiry was promised.

In fall, 2002, Harris became the first sitting premier in Ontario history to testify in a civil case against himself, when he was questioned by Klippenstein in an examination for discovery.

When Harris walked into the boardroom of a downtown Toronto law office, it was the first time Sam George had seen him in person. George's first reaction was to stand up and extend his hand to the premier.

George says he felt he had to do that. It was the type of positive move White stresses. "Part of our belief is that you never wish or ask for harm on anybody," Sam George says.

"It was a hard thing to do, but it was a point that had to be made. ... I just tried to show, `We're not who you say we are. So I'm totally opposite. You don't know me, really. You think you know me, but you don't. You know me only as this guy that supposedly is coming to nail your hide to the wall, when really I'm not.'"

The inquiry was finally called when the Liberals were voted into power last fall.

George says the long-awaited probe isn't about smearing Harris, but rather an attempt to build something positive from that horrible night when he had to identify his brother's body in the hospital, then break the news to others.

"My conscience will bother me if I don't do the right thing," Sam George says. "And that's to find out the truth. To make sure he didn't die for no reason at all."

There's just one room inside the windowless cabin at Washagamis First Nation, with eight walls in an octagonal shape, painted red, white, green and yellow, with a blue roof. The colours refer to the Earth and the races of mankind.

White says the interior is built in that shape to give the feeling of a circle, which is important in his culture. Among other things, circles represent the seasons of the year and the stages of life.

"We don't have any squares when we do our ceremonies," White says.

In the middle is a canvas wigwam, used as a sauna for the sweats. The 1.3-metre-high structure holds about 20 people, seated around a pit that holds hot stones. Directly over the pit hangs an eagle feather, an Ojibwe symbol of strength and truth.

The eagle is sacred in Ojibwe culture because it is believed to fly closest to the Creator and communicates directly with the Creator.

There's no time limit on sweat ceremonies, which often run two to four hours. There's also an understanding that whatever is said in the sweat lodge stays there.

"That's where you gain that trust and that support from the people," George says. "When you go through that type of ceremony you know that trust is there."

White, who has studied and taught the Ojibwe language, says it's hard to explain native ceremonies in English. It's also hard to explain why an inquiry on Ipperwash is so important to George and others.

White notes that the Ojibwe word "Debwewin" means the truth, but that it's a truth based in the heart, not in harshness. "Debwewin, in my language, means positive words, positive ways of thinking," he says. "Debwewin is soft - a soft, honest way."

"That's part of healing," White says. "In our culture, the spirits tell us, `We'll help you if you do things in a positive way.' The best advice they (spirits) gave me was, `Don't use what we've given you in a negative way or we'll take everything back.'"

As White sees things, the upcoming inquiry goes far beyond Sam or Dudley George. "Sam never thought about himself first," White says.

"He was always talking about other people. If you do that, you make yourself strong and you make others strong. Now and for others who haven't been born.

"Sam doesn't know it, but he's going to make a lot of communities strong. He's going to make a lot of native communities strong across Canada. ... It's going to make our communities strong - the truth."


Ipperwash inquiry begins

A long-awaited judicial inquiry began Tuesday to try to find out why aboriginal protester Dudley George was shot by police in 1995.

Demands for the inquiry have been consistent in the almost nine years since Mr. George's death. Former Ontario premier Mike Harris resisted, but the appointment of an inquiry was one of the new Liberal government's first acts after coming into power in October.

The inquiry began Tuesday morning in Forest, Ont., with an opening statement by Justice Sidney Linden. Forest is close to where Mr. George was killed in an Ontario park.

"The inquiry was called to inquire into and report on events surrounding the death of Dudley George in Ipperwash provincial park in September, 1995," Judge Linden said in his statement.

"The commission has also been asked to make recommendations aimed at avoiding violence in similar circumstances."

He said there will be two parts to the inquiry. The first will deal with the events surrounding Mr. George's death. Part two will deal with policy issues designed to help make recommendations to prevent violence in similar circumstances in the future, Judge Linden said.

"Both perspectives are key to the inquiry's fact-finding mandate."

Judge Linden said his hope is the inquiry will help public's understanding of why the incident occurred.

The inquiry is expected to last until March of next year. But there will only be two more days of hearings this week before the inquiry reconvenes in September.

A total of 17 parties have been granted standing for part one of the inquiry, and another 28 for part two. Mr. Harris has been granted standing at both sections of the inquiry.

Judge Linden said that public education and understanding are key features of in the inquiry because "they can contribute to healing and to moving forward for those whose lives were affected by the events of September, 1995."

Judge Linden said he recognizes that revisiting the events of the incident may re-open emotional wounds.

He also explained why he chose a small, remote location to hold the hearings.

"I determined that Forest should be the primary location for these hearings based on principle that an inquiry of this kind should be held in the location where a substantial part of the events in question occurred.

"In my view, physical proximity heightens one's awareness of, an appreciation for the events in question. It also better ensures that the inquiry is readily accessible to a majority of those who are most affected by those events. Nonetheless, I intend to continue to evaluate the matter of location as we proceed," he said.

Testimony began later Tuesday morning with two experts on aboriginal culture.

Dudley George was unarmed when he was shot and killed in Sept. 6, 1995, by two bullets police during a protest at Ipperwash Provincial Park near Sarnia.

Mr. George was 38 when he was gunned down after Ontario Provincial Police moved in on the group of unarmed native protesters occupying the park on the shores of Lake Huron on Sept. 6, 1995.

The parkland, which had earlier been confiscated from the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation and turned into an army camp during the Second World War, contained a burial ground that natives - Mr. George among them - considered sacred.

The protest caused consternation at the Ontario legislature in Toronto, where Mr. Harris's Tories had only just recently taken office.

During the protest, Mr. George was shot by Sergeant Ken Deane, who was later convicted for criminal negligence and resigned from the force.

Mr. George's family has always insisted Mr. Harris was involved in directing police to raid the park, but the former premier - who is expected to testify at hearings in September as part of the inquiry - has always denied any involvement.

Mr. Harris will have standing at both sections of the inquiry, as will former attorney-general Charles Harnick and former solicitor-general Bob Runciman, as well as the former Conservative MPP for the area, Marcel Beaubien. Mr. Harris and others are expected to be called to testify about whether they played a role in the OPP's decision to enter the park that night with assault weapons.

Mr. George's brother, Sam George, told reporters heading into the hearing that he was glad it had finally been called.
He said he's determined to learn what was behind his younger brother's tragic death.

"I'm very nervous; it's been a long trail," he told reporters outside the community hall. He said he hopes to find out "what really happened" to his brother.

Sam George also said he wants to hear from former premier Mr. Harris.

"I want to hear from his former ministers and any of the servants who served under him as well as anybody who has any information that's relevant to what happened."


History lesson at Ipperwash inquiry:
U of T professor relates how aboriginals would not surrender their burial grounds

FOREST, ON -- Aboriginals living near the Great Lakes were persuaded two centuries ago to give up their lands and the hunting that had sustained them over the millennia, but they would not abandon their dead, an inquiry into the slaying of native protester Dudley George heard yesterday.

"There is a continuing relationship between the living and the dead," Darlene Johnston, a legal professor at the University of Toronto who is also an expert in the ways of her aboriginal ancestors, told the inquiry.

The people the English called the Chippewas agreed to surrender all but 1 per cent of the vast swath of land they controlled throughout Southern Ontario in exchange for presents and promises of protection, Prof. Johnston said. The area included burial grounds. They also agreed to congregate in villages rather than roam in search of game.

But when those confined to a reserve near Sarnia, Ont., were asked to move to a reserve farther north where they would be out of the way of English settlers, they stood firm. They believed that the dead had two spirits, one of which stayed with the body and required feeding and attention.

"It was one thing to give up their land and their lifestyles," Prof. Johnston said, "but they couldn't be persuaded to give up the graves of their ancestors."

When Mr. George was shot dead nine years ago by acting Sergeant Kenneth Deane of the Ontario Provincial Police, he and others were occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park to protest against the expropriation of their land for a military camp. That land, they said, contained a burial ground.

The inquiry, which is in its first week, has been getting a history lesson from Prof. Johnston that is expected to continue today as she is cross-examined by at least three of the 17 lawyers representing various parties to the circumstances that led to Mr. George's death.

The aim of the inquest is to discover how the OPP came to use deadly force and how to prevent such violence in the future. The police and members of the Ontario government, including former premier Mike Harris, are not expected to testify until the fall.

Dudley George's brother, Maynard (Sam) George, said he believes the historical portion of the inquiry is one of the most important phases.

"It's going to establish why he was doing what he was doing," Mr. George said. And, he added, it will give the public a perspective on early Canada that has not been taught in history books written by European descendants.

"Because of his death, this stuff is all starting to come out now," Mr. George said. "We're finally able to tell our history from our point of view."

Yesterday's hearings dwelt on the lengthy series of land purchases, murky agreements, and eventual attempts at assimilation that marked the relationship between the aboriginals and representatives of the British Crown in the years before 1840. In one case, a map marking territory purchased from the aboriginals was drawn to be much smaller than described in the written agreement. None of the aboriginals, who signed the document with a mark, could read, Prof. Johnston said.

As payment for their land, the government offered "presents" -- blankets, cloth ribbons, pipes, knives and rum -- as well as the promise that the aboriginals would never live in poverty. But, by the mid-1800s, she said, "they are trying to make a transition [to agriculture] and they are having great difficulty; they are impoverished and they have debts that they can't pay."

Although Prof. Johnston said the lands were given to the English under "purchase" agreements, she repeatedly referred to the process as a "surrender," sometimes correcting herself.

In the inquiry room, which has been fashioned from a large recreation room attached to the arena in this small Southwestern Ontario town, were many members of the George family. Some, such as Sam George, said the history lesson has been invaluable.

But Judas George, who still lives at the camp where his cousin was killed, said he was disturbed by the fact that Prof. Johnston had to rely on accounts of European missionaries and settlers for her research because the aboriginals of the day had no written record.

"It's just European recollections of our history," he said at the close of yesterday's testimony. "So is it really the truth?"


Anger over land grab boils up at inquiry

FOREST, ON - Native protester Dudley George left a community divided when he was shot to death by a provincial police officer during the occupation of a provincial park nine years ago, divisions that are readily apparent at the inquiry into his death.

But equally visible is the anger at the federal government that has festered for more than 60 years since Mr. George's ancestors were removed from their land near this Southwestern Ontario town to make way for a military base.

That base, which contains an aboriginal cemetery in which Mr. George's father was interred, was to have been returned to the people of the Stoney Point Reserve after the Second World War. Instead, the displaced aboriginals were squeezed into a neighbouring reserve at Kettle Point and never legally permitted to return.

Peter Rosenthal, a lawyer who represents one of Mr. George's brothers, Pierre George, and others who consider themselves members of the Stoney Point First Nation, told reporters yesterday that he realizes the inquiry does not have the mandate to settle the land dispute.

It was established to determine why the police, and perhaps even members of a former Ontario Conservative government, would have sanctioned such force against unarmed protesters.

But, Mr. Rosenthal said, "I hope the light that this inquiry puts on the horrors of what the federal government did to these people in 1942 means that there will be a big enough settlement from the federal government that everybody will go away happy. And that should happen right now."

An Indian and Northern Affairs spokeswoman said Thursday that her department is investigating the land's value as a prelude to negotiating how to resolve the matter. She pointed out that elderly people who were part of the removal can receive compensation immediately.

But the issue of payment will not be so easily sorted out with the remaining band members.

Many descendants of the displaced people from Stoney Point believe they are a separate band from those at Kettle Point, even though the government considers them one entity. If so, they could be eligible for differing amounts of compensation.

To that end, Mr. Rosenthal spent much of Thursday's hearing trying to persuade Darlene Johnston, a law professor at the University of Toronto who is an aboriginal and an expert in native history, to agree that the bands started as distinct entities when the reserves were formed by treaty in 1827.

Prof. Johnston refused to do so, saying historical documents indicate that the two reserves housed people of the same band with common ownership of the land.

But "by the 20th century," she said, "I would agree they were two separate communities."

Thursday was the third day that Prof. Johnston laid out, in her calm, soft-spoken manner, the history of the aboriginal people of the Great Lakes region. She had difficulty keeping her emotions in check as she told the inquiry that the gravestones of her ancestors in Owen Sound, Ont., had been removed and used as markers on a nearby baseball diamond, while a brickworks operated on the spot where their bodies had been buried.

She recounted a series of broken treaties and lapsed promises that saw the aboriginal people who once hunted over the whole of Southern Ontario gradually reduced, by the mid-1800s, to lives of poverty on small reserves.

Andrew Orkin, a lawyer for Sam George, another of Dudley George's brothers, said Prof. Johnston's lecture revisited the "constitutional and legal and other foundations of this country we call Canada."

Representatives of the British took more than 2 million acres of land from the aboriginals in the treaty of 1827 and left them with a few thousand acres of their own by making promises of friendship and compensation that were not kept, Mr. Orkin said.

"Prof. Johnson pointed out that, in the case of her reserve, 10 years followed and we came back for the rest, and in the 20 years that followed we came back for the rest of the rest," he said.

It is a legacy, he said, that explains blockades and the response of aboriginals who "draw lines in the sand and say, 'You are now taking the last piece of land on which I can stand and sit, me with my family. ... Where do you want me to be? Under the bridges in your cities?'"