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Government, police, racism to blame in Dudley George’s death

JUNE 1, 2007 – When Justice Sidney Linden finally tabled his long-awaited report into the death of Dudley George, there was applause in the courtroom from family and supporters of the slain indigenous activist. Twelve years ago, on September 6, 1995, a bullet from the gun of Ontario Provincial Police officer, Kenneth Deane, ended unarmed George’s life. He was only 38. Deane was found criminally negligent in George’s death, but didn’t serve a day in jail, getting two years less a day community service.[1]

Linden’s report concluded that George’s death resulted from: Ottawa’s long-term neglect of indigenous land claims; the provincial Tory government’s “imperative for speed”; and “cultural insensitivity and racism” on the part of some of the provincial police involved. Mike Harris, Ontario premier at the time, was partially let off the hook. Linden didn’t find that he had “crossed the line” and ordered the cops to attack. But Linden did find that Harris made racist comments. “After carefully assessing the evidence, it is my view that Michael Harris made the statement ‘I want the f___ing Indians out of the park,” Linden wrote. “I agree with premier Harris’s characterization of the statement … as racist.”[2]

The key thing is –the long campaign for justice for Dudley George, has been vindicated, in spite of years of roadblocks and racism.

George was involved in the peaceful reclamation of land at Stony Point, which was “temporarily” confiscated by the federal government during wartime in 1942, but never returned. In 1993, 51 years later, Stony Point band members began moving onto the land. September 1995, the military withdrew when another group arrived, and built barricades at nearby Ipperwash Provincial Park. Days later, George was dead.[3]

“I thought he gave us a good report,” said Dudley’s brother Sam. “I think the report honours my brother. He started out to do something. This carries on from there.” But all knew that this report was just one piece of a much bigger puzzle. “I don’t want to discount or minimalize that, but they are words,” said Chief Dave General of the Six Nations Reserve near Hamilton. Members of his community have been occupying a former housing site on indigenous land near Caledonia for more than a year. “We’ve got to put action into words.” [4]

There are some very clear ideas coming forward as to what that action should be

  • First, Harris should apologize. “We hold him partly responsible for what happened for acting too fast.”
  • Second, the disputed land should be returned to indigenous control immediately. “Can we agree, in the next week or so, to commit that those 109 acres [about 269 hectares] be returned to native people?” said Sam.
  • Third, the various levels of government must learn the lessons from this report. In Ontario, the dispute in Caledonia, must be settled, respecting the just claims of the Six Nations. At the federal level, the government must put on a fast track processes to arrive at just land claims settlements for the hundreds of other outstanding land claims issues in Canada.

© 2007 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.


[1] Pearce Bannon, “Ipperwash Natives Outraged over Sentence,” The Spectator, April 4, 1998, sec. News.

[2] Chinta Puxley, “Neglect of Land Claims, Impatience, Cultural Insensitivity Led to Ipperwash Death,” Canadian Press NewsWire, May 31, 2007.

[3] CBC News, “CBC News In Depth: Ipperwash,” CBC News In Depth, May 31, 2007,

[4] Quoted in Peter Edwards and Robyn Doolittle, “George’s Family Praises Findings,” Toronto Star, June 1, 2007, sec. News.

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