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Dudley George

Probe to release Ipperwash tape
Public will definitely hear it, commission lawyer says

Counsel for slain activist's family can't discuss recording

Dudley George

FOREST, ON - Contents of what a lawyer calls an "explosive" previously secret tape-recorded conversation on the shooting death of native activist Anthony (Dudley) George will be made public, but not this week, a public inquiry heard yesterday.

Commission lawyer Derry Millar said the public will definitely hear the tape, which Andrew Orkin, a lawyer for the George family, described at a press conference last week as "explosive" and "high-level," and which he said "fundamentally explains" why an officer with the Ontario Provincial Police shot and killed the unarmed protester.

"The evidence will be introduced at the appropriate time, but it will be later on in the proceedings," Millar said in an interview.

However, Millar declined to speculate on just when the taped conversation on the Sept. 6, 1995, shooting at Ipperwash Provincial Park will be made public, saying that no lawyers at the inquiry have yet filed a formal application for its release.

Orkin and fellow George family lawyer Murray Klippenstein say they are barred from saying who was recorded - or what was said - because of inquiry confidentiality rules.

Tapes were provided to all 17 sets of lawyers at the inquiry on Aug. 31, Millar said.

Orkin said yesterday that a motion for the early release of the tape is being prepared, but that lawyers for the George family did not want to disrupt the schedule of the inquiry this week, which includes testimony by a historian, native elder Clifford George and an investigator for Ontario's police watchdog organization, the civilian Special Investigations Unit.

"There is scheduled business for the commission this week that we do not plan to interrupt," Orkin said.

Millar told the inquiry yesterday that Mr. Justice Sidney Linden will rule when the tape will be made public at the inquiry.

George, 38, was shot dead by an OPP tactical unit officer in September, 1995, when police marched on a group of native protesters occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park on Lake Huron. The protesters said they were protecting sacred burial grounds.

The inquiry heard several testy exchanges yesterday between Joan Holmes, an expert witness on the history of the area, and Peter Downard, a lawyer representing former Ontario premier Mike Harris.

Downard pressed the historian about a document from August, 1937, in which an Ontario government engineer refers to a burial site inside the park.

He asked Holmes if she was certain that the human remains were found inside the provincial park, or if they might have been outside its boundaries.

"He (the provincial engineer) must be working in the park, because why would the provincial government be paying him to work outside the park?" Holmes replied.


Warned about OPP unit, elder tells inquiry
'Watch it Cliff, these people are coming'

Ipperwash shooting probe told of native fears

FOREST, ON - Native elder Clifford George said he was warned by two local police officers hours before native activist Anthony (Dudley) George was shot dead by an Ontario Provincial Police officer that he had better beware of a special squad of police being brought into the area.

"He said, 'Watch it Cliff, these people are coming. We're gone at six o'clock. These people are specially trained,'" George, 84, testified at the public inquiry before Mr. Justice Sidney Linden into the shooting of his distant cousin at Ipperwash Provincial Park on Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario on Sept. 6, 1995.

The late night confrontation in which Dudley George was killed came after native protesters occupied the park at the end of tourist season, saying it was on a sacred burial ground.

A judge found in 1997 that Dudley George and other natives in the confrontation had no guns when seven police officers opened fire on them.

Clifford George testified yesterday that he considered a team of paramilitary officers who arrived at the park that day to be a "hit squad."

Wearing a chest full of war medals and holding an eagle feather, a native symbol for truth, George testified that he and his two brothers were emotionally devastated when they returned from fighting overseas in World War II to find their family home had been bulldozed in 1942 to make room for a military base, and that their mother's gravesite had been dug up to make way for a trench.

George, who was held as a prisoner of war by the Nazis in the final months of World War II, described himself and his brothers during their first visit to their mother's gravesite in 1945 as, "good, hardened soldiers, crying their eyes out."

Under questioning from commission counsel Donald Worme, George said the return home was particularly rough for his older brother, Kenneth, who was shell-shocked from heavy fighting overseas.

Immediately after returning to Canada in 1945, Kenneth George skipped a party held by his military unit in Guelph to hitchhike to their former home at Stoney Point, Clifford George said.

"He looked around and found that it (the former home) was a barracks, and he couldn't understand that," George said. "He slept in a ditch for the rest of the night, because he didn't know where to go."

George and his two older brothers, all of whom volunteered to fight overseas, were granted permission to visit the graveyard, where their mother and several others from the community were buried.

"There was trenches dug where they were playing soldier, right in our gravesite," George said. "That is what made it bad for us.... I always say, 'I found all my enemies when I got home.'"

George said he tried to bring his English war bride, whom he met while serving with an anti-aircraft unit in Dover, on to the Kettle Point reserve. His family had been forcibly relocated there by the Canadian government in 1942, so that their land in Stoney Point could be used for a military base.

The Indian agent shouted at him that it wasn't right to bring a white woman onto a native reserve that would likely never get electricity or indoor plumbing, he said.

George said he received a letter from his father while he was overseas, telling him not to worry that his homeland at Stoney Point was taken under the War Measures Act.

"He told me, 'Never mind son. As soon as the war is over, our property will be given back to us,'" George testified.

He said he later heard how his Stoney Point schoolteacher had to be forcibly moved from Stoney Point in 1942.

"She sat on her chair outside (her home) with a shotgun on her knees," George testified. "... I don't think the gun was even loaded. But that didn't stop them. They just picked her up... I think that none of them went voluntarily. That was their home, their land. We had the idea that the Creator put us there."

There was a heated exchange after Mark Sandler, a lawyer for the OPP, called Clifford George an "extraordinary gentlemen," but cautioned against him being allowed to give hearsay evidence about violence in the park the night Dudley George died.

"I am telling the truth," George replied sharply, pointing his finger at the lawyer. "... I think I'm getting too close to the truth for you.... You people don't want to see the truth."

George is scheduled to be back on the witness stand when the inquiry resumes on Sept. 20.


Elder discounts gun 'rumours'
Testifies to peaceful life at Stoney Point

Denies natives used guns and intimidation

FOREST, ON - False news reports about natives armed with guns frightened police and firefighters to the point that they wouldn't set foot on the Stoney Point reserve, an elder told the public inquiry into the death of native activist Anthony (Dudley) George.

"There was a lot of rumours," Clifford George, 84, told the inquiry examining how Dudley George ended up being shot by a member of the Ontario Provincial Police when seven officers opened fire on an unarmed group of Stoney Point natives during a confrontation on Sept. 6, 1995.

"There still is today," continued George, under questioning from Mark Sandler, a lawyer representing the OPP. "That there were weapons in there ... There are not, sir. There never was."

George wore a poppy and a dozen medals from World War II and the Korean War on his blue blazer, and held an eagle feather, a native testament for truth, as he listened to Sandler read from old news reports that suggested the natives had guns in their community. In one from April, 1998, another native elder was quoted as saying she was forced out of Stoney Point after being threatened with guns.

"I'm sure that she was asked to leave there because she was causing problems," George said.

He said the Stoney Point natives made a conscious decision not to keep guns there when they occupied the former Camp Ipperwash military base, on land that had been taken from Indians in 1942 and never returned.

Sandler questioned George about a local newspaper story in spring 1998, which stated that a sawed-off .22-calibre rifle and Molotov cocktails had been found on the base by a native peacekeeper. George said he never heard of either being present. "I would have done something about it, sir, immediately," said George, who held the rank of counsellor and elder.

George said a mentally disturbed woman who was asked to leave the camp set fire to a building there sometime after September, 1995, and that no firefighters from outlying communities would help fight the blaze.

"That's the time the fire departments would not come anywhere near it, even though they were called," George said.


Firearms photos draw fire

A lawyer for Dudley George's family says they are 'bogus'

FOREST, ON - A lawyer for Dudley George's family accused the OPP and a group representing its rank and file members of stooping to a new low after photos of seized firearms were introduced at the Ipperwash inquiry yesterday. "It is absolutely bogus," charged lawyer Andrew Orkin.

He said the firearms in the pictures weren't found at the Stoney Point native reserve, but in another community.

He said it was extraordinary police would now bring forth objects never introduced when an OPP officer went on trial for the fatal 1995 shooting of George, a native protester.

"It is simply a blatant effort once again to bring up a smokescreen and blow smoke in the face of the public at the start of this process."

The photos -- one of a .22-calibre rifle, the other of a sawed-off shotgun with the words "bastard blaster" written on the side -- were shown in cross-examination of native witness Clifford George.

Ian Rolland, lawyer for the Ontario Provincial Police Association, said evidence will be introduced later showing the weapons were turned over to the OPP Sept. 8, 1995, two days after Dudley George was shot by a police sniper in a confrontation at Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Rolland also introduced a blurry police surveillance photo taken in a building on the Stoney Point reserve in the early morning hours of Sept. 6, 1995, the day George was shot.

The photo showed a man with a ponytail walking with an object in his left hand.

Rolland asked Clifford George if the man in the picture was Dudley George and if he was carrying a firearm.

The native elder replied he couldn't tell from the poor-quality photo if the man was carrying a stick or a gun.

Nor could Clifford George identify the person pictured.

Rolland suggested the object was being carried in the way a person would carry a gun.

"I would carry my stick that way sometimes," George replied.

The 84-year-old was also questioned yesterday for hours about statements given by soldiers at Camp Ipperwash, an army camp, that gunshots were frequently heard from the area occupied by the natives.

Some soldiers said they'd observed Dudley George with a rifle and he had panned their position before firing into the bush. Another reported George would sit on his porch and shoot at deer in a field on the other side of Highway 21.

Clifford George said he never saw Dudley George or any other natives at the army camp with a firearm. He asked why the incidents hadn't been reported to authorities at the reserve and why the soldiers' reports focused on Dudley George when there were many others at the camp.

"There was a lot of gall darn discrimination against us, trying to pin things on us," George testified.

He also said he never heard gunshots in the night that soldiers had reported.

"In that period 1993 to 1995, how was your hearing?" asked Rolland.

"Very good, sir," George replied.

George also disputed statements by soldiers that Dudley George had crashed a car into a military vehicle. He said he'd never known him to drive.

Asked by Rolland to explain why a soldier would record observations about Dudley George firing guns, George said: "I hate to call anyone a liar, but I think he is lying like the rest of them."

Outside the hearing room, Orkin said it appeared to him the man in the police surveillance photo was carrying a flashlight.

"I suppose it is expectable that nine years on, with no explanation of not having found any weapons of mass destruction at Stoney Point, the OPP and the OPPA will now be coming up with photographs of a man walking in the darkness with a mag flashlight, saying he is carrying a gun.

"This is stooping pretty low and really scraping the bottom of the barrel."

Challenged in the hearing for introducing "inflammatory" material, Rolland said he was only trying to be fair to the witness, allowing him to respond to evidence that will be heard later that will contradict his testimony.

Meanwhile, a mystery tape that has been described as "explosive" could be made public as early as next week at the inquiry.

There also were hints yesterday there is similar evidence still being kept under wraps.

Bill Horton, lawyer for the Chiefs of Ontario, said he will ask the commission Monday to release the tape to the public during a closed session.

"I think it is very important evidence. I think as we go along there is other evidence in the same category," he told reporters.

The inquiry was also shown an October 1989 CBC Fifth Estate program that exposed the "marriage patch" at the army camp, an exclusive beach area families of soldiers described as a "military Club Med."

A vacationing soldier interviewed on the television program about how he felt about the land being seized from the natives replied: "Too bad. A deal is a deal."

The "marriage patch" was shut down after the program aired.


Inquiry told of Harris remark
Comment allegedly made before shooting

Ex-premier's lawyer attacks testimony

FOREST, ON - Hours before police shot and killed a native activist at Ipperwash Provincial Park, a local chief was told in a phone call that then-premier Mike Harris informed a meeting, "I don't care what it takes. Get those f---ing Indians out of the park," a witness told a public inquiry yesterday.

Bonnie Bressette, 67, testified yesterday that Chief Tom Bressette, of the Kettle and Stony Point band, told her of the call hours after the fatal shooting of Anthony (Dudley) George on the night of Sept. 6, 1995.

"He (Bressette) said, 'I got this telephone call,'" she told the Ipperwash inquiry. "He didn't tell me who called him." The chief was clearly disturbed by the call that reported Harris' comments, she said.

Harris' lawyer, Bill Hourigan, objected to questioning about the telephone call, but Mr. Justice Sidney Linden, who's presiding over the inquiry, said the rules of evidence in a public inquiry are more relaxed than at a trial.

The chief is expected to testify later in the inquiry.

Harris has continually said there was no political involvement in the police operation, in which seven Ontario Provincial Police officers opened fire on the natives. A judge later found that all of the native people were unarmed that night.

While he permitted the questioning, Linden also cautioned that the account of the phone call was not proven evidence and it will be probed later on.

In an interview outside the inquiry, Hourigan described the account of the phone call as "second- or third- or fourth-hand."

"It's a basic evidentiary tenet that you need to hear evidence from witnesses who are in a position to testify from first-hand experience," he said.

But lawyer Andrew Orkin, who represents some members of the George family, said in an interview that evidence introduced by the Ontario Provincial Police Association claiming the natives had guns was also hearsay.

He added that the questioning was appropriate, since the OPP operation at the park the night George was killed raises questions about political pressure from high levels of government.

In earlier testimony, Bressette said George told her that OPP officers threatened him and warned that he would "be the first to get it," hours before he was shot dead by a police tactical unit officer.

Bressette testified that when they talked at the park on Sept. 6, George just laughed when she asked him if he was afraid for his life.

George, 38, was shot dead after police marched on a group of two-dozen unarmed aboriginal protesters occupying the park on Lake Huron.


Racism rears head at Ipperwash inquiry

FOREST, ON - The Ipperwash judicial inquiry took an unsettling turn yesterday after members of Dudley George's family found a metre-long swastika spray-painted at their usual parking spots.

Under the Nazi symbol, "4 ever" was painted on the asphalt parking lot at the Forest Community Centre.

Several lawyers at the inquiry into Mr. George's death are Jewish, as is Mr. Justice Sidney Linden, the inquiry commissioner.

Provincial police are investigating.

Sam George, a brother of the dead man, found the swastika after he parked.

"It is too bad people can't get rid of this kind of stuff and move forward," he said.

"It is the type of symbol you see when there is hatred toward other people, and to see it here this morning is just not good."

Mr. George said he hoped the inquiry would promote healing in the community after the events at Ipperwash Provincial Park nine years ago, when his brother was shot and killed by a provincial police officer.

The swastika showed there is still a long way to go, he said.

The incident comes just days after a member of a road-paving crew working on the street in front of the community centre yelled "get a job" at a native woman crossing the street.

The incident was witnessed by reporters and several natives.

The road worker has reportedly been suspended from her job.

Andrew Orkin, a lawyer for the George family, said it appeared the swastika was the work of someone local, but doesn't reflect feelings in the community.

"Our sense is this is certainly not representative of dominant local thinking, either in Forest or Bosanquet, or in Southwestern Ontario," he said.

But Mr. Orkin said it would be an opportune time for local religious and community leaders to condemn the action.

"Let's do so promptly and in very strong terms."

Mr. Orkin said there was a terrible irony the graffiti was done the day after the testimony of Clifford George, a decorated war veteran who fought the Nazis in Europe during the Second World War.

Inside the hall, Marcia Simon, a resident of Stoney Point, Ont., described in detail how armed police officers allegedly threatened her the night Mr. George was shot.

Ms. Simon, 57, has a degree in social science and helped write the native-language program used in Ontario schools. She was a high-school teacher in London, Ont., and had a home on the reserve.

She testified that she was headed for the confrontation scene to find her son around 11 p.m. when police with lights and loudspeakers ordered her away.

Aware some of her people were shot and injured, and fearing her son was among them, Ms. Simon testified she left with her mother, Melva George, to call for an ambulance.

She said that halfway to Northville, Ont., their vehicle was intercepted on Highway 21 by two OPP cruisers with flashing lights. Ms. Simon, who had already ordered her mother down and out of sight, kept driving.

"I was fearful they wanted to stop and shoot me," she told the inquiry, fighting back tears.

At Northville she dialled an operator from the payphone. She then told inquiry members that several officers approached with guns levelled and order her away from the phone. In the car, her mother was screaming, she said.


Swastika painted outside inquiry
Brother of slain native spots Nazi graffiti

'There's a terrible irony here,' lawyer says

FOREST, ON - Sam George parked his truck yesterday in his regular spot outside the inquiry into the shooting death of his brother, native activist Anthony (Dudley) George, and stepped out to see freshly painted Nazi graffiti on the pavement.

He appeared saddened as he stared at a metre-long swastika, with "4 ever" painted in black underneath, in the corner of the parking lot at the local hockey arena, where Mr. Justice Sidney Linden has been conducting the inquiry since July.

"It's sad to see something like this," George said. "It's just too bad people can't get rid of this kind of stuff and go forward."

George family lawyer Andrew Orkin called upon faith leaders in this southwestern Ontario community near Sarnia to denounce this type of hatred.

"Our sentiment is that this is certainly not representative of the dominant local feeling," Orkin said.

He noted that the graffiti was painted just days after George's cousin Clifford, 84, testified about encountering racism in Canada after fighting overseas against the Nazis in World War II.

"There's a terrible irony here," Orkin said.

Clifford George, who was held by the Nazis as a prisoner of war, said he doubts that those behind the graffiti understand what it means.

"They don't know what a swastika is," Clifford George said. "There's all kinds of sick people in this world ... There has always been discrimination."

Linden is probing the shooting death of Dudley George on Sept. 6, 1995, when seven Ontario Provincial Police officers opened fire on unarmed native protesters at Ipperwash Provincial Park. That same night, another native man was beaten until his heart stopped, but he was later revived.

The judge's mandate includes drafting suggestions for avoiding similar violence in the future.

An OPP officer yesterday photographed the graffiti before arena staff painted it over in black.

The swastika was painted in a spot where the George family often parks a borrowed mobile home, which they have nicknamed the Truthmobile.

Also yesterday, the inquiry heard a tape-recording of Dudley George's cousin, Marcia Simon, 58, as she was being arrested at gunpoint by OPP officers. At the time, she was trying to call for an ambulance from a phone booth in the nearby village of Northville immediately after the shooting.

An officer could be heard shouting, "Don't make a move, lady," and Simon responding, "I'm just talking on the phone. Get the gun out of here."

Simon and at least a half-dozen people in the inquiry room - including one lawyer - cried as she told how she was terrified that her son Kevin might have also been fatally shot and horrified that officers might shoot her elderly mother, Melva, when they trained shotguns on her and ordered her to raise her arms.

"She was pleading that she couldn't - that she had arthritis," Simon recalled. "I thought they were going to blow her away.

"I asked them if that's how they were trained to treat old, grey-haired widows, and they seemed to calm down," Simon continued. "They couldn't answer that question."

Simon, who at the time was a high-school teacher in nearby London, said she was held in custody that night but never given a reason for the arrest.

The recording did not include an earlier call Simon made from the phone booth, when she pleaded with the operator to send an ambulance to the park the night of the shooting.

"She (the operator) says, 'I think you need to be in touch with the police,'" Simon testified. "I told her that it was the police that were going to shoot me."

On average each day, about three-dozen spectators have attended the inquiry, held in a hockey rink where Dudley George once played hockey as a peewee goalie.

Members of the nearby Kettle and Stony Point bands comprise most of the public watching the proceedings.

George, 38, was killed after police riot-squad officers marched on a group of two-dozen unarmed aboriginal protesters occupying the park, on Lake Huron. The protesters occupied the park after it closed on the Labour Day weekend of 1995, saying they were protecting native burial grounds.

The inquiry continues Monday.


Teacher testifies she feared for life

FOREST, ON - A former London teacher testified yesterday she feared she would be executed by police as she made a desperate call to a 911 operator about the clash between police and native protesters at Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995. "I was determined to try and at least make a last-ditch effort to have someone alerted that there was a cry for help there," Marcia Simon testified at the inquiry into the killing of native protester Dudley George in September

Simon, who taught at Beal secondary school and lived at the Stoney Point Reserve, said she was told by one of her sons that night that police had "shot up everything" at the nearby park. Fearing her other son, who had been at the park, was lying somewhere dying, Simon said she knew she had to get help.

She took her mother and they drove the four kilometres to a pay phone at the hamlet of Northville to call for ambulances. Half-way there, she could see police vehicles with their flashers on approaching from behind. She decided to keep going until she made it to the pay phone.

"I was fearful they wanted to stop me and shoot me as well because there was no reason to stop me," she testified.

She made it to the pay telephone, dialled and told the operator she needed an ambulance. By then, OPP officers with shotguns levelled at her head had closed in.

On the tape of the 911 call played yesterday at the inquiry, a voice could be heard in the background yelling, "Don't make a move, lady" as Simon asked for an ambulance.

Simon stayed on the phone despite the warning.

She testified she couldn't believe police had shotguns levelled at her as she called for help, but then remembered what had happened at Tiananmen Square in China where civilians were slaughtered by the military.

"I turned my back to them and offered them the back of my head. If they were going to shoot me, do it in the back of my head," Simon testified as several men and women in the audience wiped tears from their eyes. One lawyer wept.

She said the phone was jerked from her.

"I remembered meeting the hood of my car and the ground. And I could hear my mother yelling in the background. She was trying to tell them about the bone graft I had just had, that it was healing, and they paid no attention."

Simon said her glasses were knocked from her and left in the parking lot. She was then handcuffed.

She testified she became aware her mother was on the ground trying to pray.

"They had shotguns levelled right at her head, yelling at her to put her hands in the air, and she was pleading that she couldn't because she had arthritis.

"I thought they were going to blow her away and I pleaded with them."

Simon said she told police to leave her mother alone, that she didn't do anything wrong.

"I asked them if that's how they were trained to treat old, grey-haired widows, and they seemed to calm down a little. They couldn't answer that question."

Police decided to arrest her, but promised to take her mother home, she testified.

Simon said she was taken to Forest and put in a police cell. The next morning, she said police told her they would release her and she was put in a cruiser with two officers, who drove on back roads.

"I was really fearful for my life," she said.

Eventually, she was taken to her mother's home.

Simon said the events have had a lasting effect on her and for years she was terrified of driving into Forest.

The inquiry resumes Monday with her cross- examination.