Ottawa

Inquiry into Dudley George's death begins

A public inquiry that begins today in Ontario will explore the events surrounding the death of an unarmed native protester at Ipperwash Provincial Park nine years ago.

A public inquiry that begins today in Ontario will explore the events surrounding the death of an unarmed native protester at Ipperwash Provincial Park nine years ago.


File photo of protest

An Ontario Provincial Police officer shot and killed Dudley George, 38, during a standoff over a land claims dispute.

The OPP officer, acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane, was convicted of criminal negligence causing death.

Many hope the inquiry will uncover who authorized the use of police force against protesters who had erected barriers at the park to halt what they called the desecration of an aboriginal burial ground.

"I asked a very simple question," said Dudley George's brother Sam, looking back to the days immediately following the September 1995 shooting. "What happened?

"Somebody tell me the truth. I did not know that it would be difficult to get an answer; that we'd go down a road that fought us every inch of the way so that they would not have to tell me that answer."


Dudley George died on Sept. 6, 1995.

Dudley George was the first aboriginal protester in a century killed by police in Canada.

His death came at a time when First Nations were battling the federal government over land claims at sites ranging from Gustafsen Lake in British Columbia to Oka in Quebec.

Cries of racism greeted news of George's shooting, and have persisted through the years.

The inquiry, chaired by Ontario Provincial Court Justice Sidney Linden, is expected to hear from high-ranking police officials, as well as former Ontario premier Mike Harris and some of his Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers in its quest to determine who gave instructions on how to deal with the protest.

Harris has denied that he played any role in instructing police.

Lawyers representing the George family dropped a civil suit against the province after the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty replaced the former Tory administration in 2003 and called a judicial inquiry into the Ipperwash affair.

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