The Ipperwash Crisis was the ultimate result of Aboriginal resistance towards the Canadian state. It began on September 4, 1995 when several members from the Stoney Point Reserve moved onto Ipperwash Provincial Park to occupy it, since they firmly believed that the Canadian state had unjustly taken this land from their reserve. According to The Ipperwash Inquiry, the protest was directed at both the federal and provincial governments for their failure to return the land that was formerly part of the Stoney Point Reserve as they had previously promised in both the 1940s and again in 1994 (The Ipperwash Inquiry, 2007, p. 18). In addition, the occupation of Ipperwash Park was due to the fact that the Aboriginal protesters wanted to protect this land, since it was previously used as a gravesite for their grandparents (The Ipperwash Inquiry, 2007, p. 18-19). Thus, the Aboriginal protesters had various reasons for occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park.
When the occupation of Ipperwash Park began, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) at first attempted to peacefully remain on the park with the Aboriginal protesters (The Ipperwash Inquiry, 2007, p. 19). However, tensions between the OPP and the Aboriginal protesters began to gradually increase between September 4 to September 6 as minor confrontations occurred between the police and the protesters. Under instruction from Ontario Premier Mike Harris, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) were pressured into removing the Aboriginal protesters from the Ipperwash Provincial Park (Hedican, 2012, p. 6-7).
The tension between the Aboriginal protesters and the OPP ultimately led to the shooting of Dudley George by OPP officer Ken Deane on September 6. With a combination of false information that the Aboriginal protesters had weapons and a lack of understanding by the OPP officers for why the protest was occurring, along with the pressure to remove the protesters, OPP officers raided the park in which several altercations occurred and resulted in Dudley George’s death (Hedican, 2012, p. 5-6). Thus, the Ipperwash Crisis ended in violence between the police and the protesters on the night of September 6, 1995.
The Ipperwash Crisis was the result of Aboriginal dissent towards the Canadian state. To understand this incident, along with the other forms of Aboriginal dissent in Canada, it is necessary to situate the Ipperwash Crisis in the context of Canada’s colonial history (Neu, 2000, p. 163). Therefore, it is crucial to examine the historical factors that led to the Aboriginal protesters occupying Ipperwash Park.
With this perspective, the Ipperwash Crisis could be understood as the culmination of a decades-long Aboriginal land dispute involving the Canadian state and members of the Stoney Point Reserve. In 1942, due to the use of the War Measures Act, Aboriginal families were relocated from the Stoney Point Reserve to the Kettle Point Reserve as the Canadian government wanted to use that land to build a military base (The Ipperwash Inquiry, 2007, p. 7). Despite this relocation, there was an understanding that the Canadian government would return the land back to the original inhabitants, however, this never occurred (Hedican, 2012, p. 5). From this information, it is apparent that the Ipperwash Crisis was directly the result of the Canadian state dislocating the original inhabitants of the land that became Ipperwash Provincial Park and for failing to return the land decades later.
While the Ipperwash Crisis ended in violence, it should be noted that eventually, in 2009, the Ipperwash Provincial Park was closed and the land was returned to the residents of Stoney Point Reserve (Edwards, 2009). This occurred two years after the final Ipperwash Inquiry by Justice Sidney B. Linden. While the land was finally returned to the original inhabitants, it is still reasonable to be critical of the role of the Canadian state for the Ipperwash Crisis. If the land was returned decades earlier, or was never seized to begin with, this violent incident would have never occurred.
Edwards, P. (2009, May 29). The legacy of Dudley George. Toronto Star. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2009/05/29/the_legacy_of_dudley_george.html
Hedican, E. J. (2012). Policing Aboriginal protests and confrontations: some policy recommendations. The International Indigenous Policy Journal 3(2), 1-17.
Ipperwash Inquiry (2007). Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, The Honourable Sidney B. Linden, Commissioner. Toronto, ON: Publications Ontario. http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquiries/ipperwash/report/vol_4/pdf/E_Vol_4_Summary_1.pdf
Neu, D. (2000). “Presents” for the “Indians”: land, colonialism and accounting in Canada. Accounting, Organizations and Society 25(2), 163-184. http://journals1.scholarsportal.info/pdf/03613682/v25i0002/163_ftlcaaic.xml