June 01, 2007
Ipperwash Papers investigator calls Inquiry “shameful cover-up”
According to the lead investigator for The Ipperwash Papers project, the Ipperwash Inquiry is a shameful cover-up that deliberately ignored a campaign of native crime and intimidation against Ipperwash residents that began in earnest in 1992 following the submission of a little known land claim against the homes of West Ipperwash Beach residents by the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point.
Mark Vandermaas says that the Inquiry’s determination to ignore the suffering of Ipperwash residents not only deprived the innocent victims of land claim violence of the opportunity to be heard and healed, it also deprived the people of Ontario of the opportunity to learn how to prevent future violence against innocent third parties while land claims are waiting to be settled. He also says that the cover-up means that Canadians were denied the chance to understand what role the failure of the OPP and Department of National Defence to enforce the law beforehand played in the death of Dudley George.
The Ipperwash Inquiry did not call a single full time resident to testify about the trauma they experienced at the hands of natives before, during and after the events of September 1995. During the course of an inquiry that lasted three years, a mere 90 minutes was allotted for residents to address the Commissioner in a townhall meeting that took place on the evening of June 21, 2006. Vandermaas alleges that the minutes of that meeting were “sanitized” to downplay residents’ statements in a way that strongly suggests that the Inquiry’s conclusions were pre-determined. He says that the Inquiry’s minutes of this ‘Community Consultation’ differed so dramatically from a reporter’s account of the meeting that he felt compelled to verify that she was, indeed, writing about the same event.
Vandermaas claims that the failure of the Ipperwash Inquiry to reveal the truth about native victimization of innocent residents was not an accident. The stated purpose of Part 2 of the Inquiry was to come up with recommendations to prevent future violence. Despite the Inquiry’s promise to publish all third party projects prepared for this very important topic, he says it did not do so.
In July 2004, a 29-page chronological history of the Ipperwash saga outlining the suffering of residents at the hands of natives and OPP/DND inaction was submitted to the Inquiry by Mary-Lou Lapratte, a long time resident of Ipperwash whose many credentials include serving as the Public Relations Officer for the West Ipperwash Property Owners Association from 1992 to 2001. Her account of events at Ipperwash was never published by the Inquiry.
At least one high ranking Inquiry official had personal knowledge of how Ipperwash residents’ were suffering at the hands of native criminals, but that knowledge was never made public or used to help give residents a voice at the Inquiry. According to legal correspondence provided by LaPratte, the Inquiry’s lead counsel, Mr. Derry Millar, and his firm, Weir & Foulds successfully defended the West Ipperwash Property Owners Association all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada against an invalid native land claim against their properties. LaPratte says that Millar was well aware of how residents felt about native crime and the failure of law enforcement to deal with it.
On March 14, 2007 LaPratte joined VoiceofCanada and CaledoniaWakeUpCall at a joint news conference at Queen’s Park to release The Ipperwash Papers – 400 pages of documents they say were overlooked and/or excluded by the official Inquiry.
Vandermaas feels that one of the most ominous documents ‘overlooked’ by the Ipperwash Inquiry so far as the current victims of land claim violence in Caledonia are concerned – is an editorial by the Sarnia Observer dated May 25/94: “Police must enforce laws:”
“It’s going to be another long summer for residents of West Ipperwash Beach. The owners…complained of almost constant harassment last summer from natives. It’s up to the police to enforce the law along that beach area so residents, who hold lawful deeds to their properties, can feel safe. Regardless of any land claim, natives must obey the law. They simply cannot be allowed to do as they please…”
One year and four months after this editorial was published, Dudley George was dead.
He says the Ipperwash Inquiry also ‘overlooked’ a letter from the township that blamed Mr. George’s death and the “terrorizing of a municipality” on the failure to enforce the law against natives. This letter, along with hundreds of other victim impact statements written by area residents, was submitted to a federally-appointed representative in 1996. One resident described her Ipperwash experience from 1992 onwards as follows:
“In the West Beach land claim, which was going through a court process, a native anywhere on the properties, for any reason, would not be charged. Our lives became a daily nightmare of threats, intimidation, and harassment tactics which, over the years, became home invasions and physical assaults.
We became a community with no policing, no province and no country. No one in the OPP, the Provincial government or the Federal Government would give us any relief or help with the aggression. At one point after the death of native protestor Dudley George, the police totally deserted our community because they and their families became targets. Our community was in chaos.”
Thirty-two of these victim impact statements form an important and poignant part of The Ipperwash Papers. They, too, were ‘overlooked’ by the Ipperwash Inquiry.
“The Ipperwash Inquiry deliberately chose to ignore the issue of native violence and the role it, and the failure of the OPP and DND to enforce the law, played in the death of Dudley George. Dudley George may have died from a police bullet,” Vandermaas says, “but it was the failure to enforce the law against native criminals in the years prior to his death that loaded the rifle.”
NOTE: The exclusion of Ipperwash residents is only one of the failures and omissions of the Ipperwash Inquiry. For a complete list and accompanying analysis, please visit The Ipperwash Papers website at the address shown below
– 30 –
Mark Vandermaas is the editor of VoiceofCanada.ca, and was the lead investigator for The Ipperwash Papers, a collection of more than 400 pages of documents that reveal the suffering of innocent Ipperwash residents at the hands of native criminals, and by Department of National Defence and OPP Two Tier Justice policies during three separate land claims; how the Ipperwash Inquiry completely excluded their testimony and other key evidence; and why the Inquiry’s recommendations will never prevent future violence against third parties.
The Ipperwash Papers were released to the public on March 14, 2007 at the Queen’s Park Media Studio by Vandermaas, co-investigator Gary McHale and long-time Ipperwash resident and community leader, Mary-Lou LaPratte.
– REFERENCES –
- The Ipperwash Papers website: www.ipperwashpapers.ca
- Mark Vandermaas notes for March 14/07 news conference: The Investigation
- Mary-Lou LaPratte: notes for March 14/07 news conference: A Resident’s View
- The Ipperwash Papers: Summary of Evidence, by Mark Vandermaas
- The Ipperwash Papers, document A-1: Chronological History, by Mary-Lou LaPratte
- The Ipperwash Papers, document F-34: Victim impact statement from Town of Bosanquet (now Lambton Shores)
- The Ipperwash Papers, document C-2: Letter & Statement of Defence against Ipperwash land claim by Derry Millar’s firm, Weir & Foulds
- The Ipperwash Papers, document C-3: Letter by Derry Millar to Mary-Lou LaPratte re Ipperwash land claim
- The Ipperwash Papers, document O-4: Lakeshore Advance reporter’s account of Inquiry’s June 21/06 “Community Consultation” meeting
- The Ipperwash Papers, document O-3: Ipperwash Inquiry’s ‘santitized’ minutes of June 21/06 “Community Consultation” meeting
- The Ipperwash Papers, document O-2: Witness list for Ipperwash Inquiry
- VoiceofCanada: Ipperwash Papers vs. Ipperwash Inquiry: 12 Questions for journalists
- CaledoniaWakeUpCall: IpperwashGate
– CONTACTS –
The Ipperwash Papers website: www.IpperwashPapers.ca
Mark Vandermaas, Editor
Lead Investigator – The Ipperwash Papers
Gary McHale, Editor
Co-investigator – The Ipperwash Papers