Canada

George family braces for Ipperwash inquiry report

The family of slain aboriginal protester Dudley George may finally get some answers Thursday when an inquiry into the 1995 shooting death releases its final report.

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The family of slain aboriginal protester Dudley George may finally get some answersThursday when an inquiry intothe 1995 shooting death releases its final report.

George, 38,was killed by a police sniper's bullet as Ontario Provincial Police moved in on the occupation by unarmed protesters at Ipperwash Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Huron.

Sam George said he was nervous, but looking forward to hearing the inquiry's findings on his brother's death.

"We’ve worked hard over the last 12 years to try to get to this point where we’re at today,"he told CBC News Thursday morning. "It’s been a hard road and we wouldn’t wish this type of journey on anyone."

While he's waiting to see who, if anyone, the inquiry blames, George said he also hopes the inquirylaysout a new roadmap for how to settle the more than 1,100 outstanding land claims across Canada.

Georgeadded that his brother once made an eerie prophecy that underlines how manyaboriginalpeople feel about their land.

"He said he loved this land so much that he was willing to die, or he would die for this land, and unfortunately in the end he did end up giving his life for that."

Harris's role probed

Premier Dalton McGuinty launched the inquiry into the Sept. 6, 1995, clash at Ipperwash only days after his Liberals swept to power in 2003.

Commissioner Sidney Linden reviewed the testimony of 139 witnesses heard over 25 monthsin Forest, Ont., a town not far from the occupation site.

One of the key issues the inquiry examined was whether alleged political interference from then Ontario premier Mike Harris played a role in the police response to the occupation.

Harris acknowledged during his testimony that he wanted the occupation brought to a quick end, andexpressed that sentiment during an informal government meeting held just hours before George was killed.

Provincial police officersattended the meeting, but exactly what was said and by whom has been the subject of conflicting testimony at the inquiry.

Charles Harnick, Harris's attorney general at the time of the protest, testified that he heardHarris say at the meeting, "I want the fucking Indians out of the park."

Harris vehemently denied making the statement andtestified he would never use profanity in such a meeting.

Last August, the George family's lawyer, Murray Klippenstein, argued during the inquiry'sfinal submissions that Harris's stated desire for a quick end to theoccupation filtered down to police on the scene at Ipperwash and influenced their actions.

Lawyers for Harris and the police have insisted that political influence played no role in the tragedy.

With files from the Canadian Press