UPDATE June 22/07: Mary-Lou LaPratte and Ipperwash finally had their stories told by a main-stream media outlet, the Western Standard magazine. See, Truth emerges as Ipperwash Papers go ‘main stream.’
This is the third in VoiceofCanada’s “The Strength of a Woman’ series of articles designed to honour the women who have both inspired and shamed us with their courage during the struggle against Two Tier Justice in Ontario. The title was inspired by Robin McGraw, wife of TV’s Dr. Phil – see ‘The Strength of a Woman’ – Lisa Parent.
If there is a hero to be found in the Ipperwash story, it is a remarkable woman by the name of Mary-Lou LaPratte. She lived through it all: crime and intimidation from natives over an invalid land claim against her home and those of her fellow residents; an eventual Supreme Court victory; threats; a home invasion; an assault; ongoing OPP refusal to enforce the law; DND failure to enforce the law; abandonment by the OPP when they fled Ipperwash to save themselves after the death of Dudley George, and psychological trauma so acute during the events of September 1995 that her hair fell out in chunks.
Despite the unbelievable stress and intimidation that caused most Ipperwash residents to suffer unbearable outrages in silence, Mary-Lou refused to be bullied. She spoke out, again and again, on behalf of her fellow citizens who were too afraid to speak for themselves.
On May 31, 2007 the Ipperwash Inquiry released its insulting and shameful report that vindicated native lawlessness after deliberately excluding all evidence related to the suffering of innocent residents at the hands of native criminals. The Inquiry tried – as native thugs and criminals have in the past – to victimize Mary-Lou LaPratte, but – once again – she refuses to be silent.
June 01, 2007
I was involved with the Inquiry for two years. I wanted to know the answer to what I thought was the most important question the residents needed an answer to: Why is Colour-of-Right being legitimized in native land disputes to commit criminal offences and acts of violence on innocent residents and businesses who are on the periphery of disputed land??? No one at the Inquiry answered this question. The mandate of the Inquiry was to prevent violence in land disputes. The violence and criminal acts suffered by residents at the hands of the natives was irrelevant to the Commission of the Inquiry.
In light of Caledonia, Hagersville, and Desoronto, it is apparent that criminal acts and violence by natives against innocent third parties in these land disputes is also irrelevent to the Federal Gov’t, Provincial Gov’t and the OPP irregardless of how devastating the results are to the victims.
How does anyone expect us to move forward with the recommendations of this report and achieve positive results without the criminality and violence displayed by the Native Faction being addressed and dealt with???? You tell me if Justice was served in this $21,000,000.00 Inquiry.
Today Sam George, brother of Dudley George , asked the Premier of Ontario to hand the former Ipperwash Provincial Park to the occuppying natives. I will be deeply surprised if this in fact is done without the due process of proof of who owns the land. Ontarians forget that this land was legally surrendered and sold in 1929 many years before the reserve was consfiscated under the War Measures Act in 1942. The Premier will have a difficult time giving it back considering that the Stoney Pointers were paid for it in 1929 and at this point in time it still is owned by the public of Ontario. Legitimate processes must be followed in any native land claim. This piece of land deserves the same integrity.
Sincerely, Mary-Lou LaPratte
About Mary-Lou LaPratte:
Mary-Lou LaPratte (right) has spent the last 15 years of her life trying to give a voice to the true victims of the Ipperwash tragedy, and trying to prevent future violence against innocent third parties caught up in land claims. Her credentials include:
- served as Vice Chair of the Ipperwash Policing Committee. 1993 to 1996
- organized the first Neighbourhood Watch in Ipperwash. 1993 to 1996
- served on the Executive of ONFIRE (Ontario Federation for Individual Rights and Equality), Security, 1995 to 1997
- President of ONFIRE from 1997 to December 2006.
- Public Relations officer for the West Ipperwash Property Owners Association. 1992 to 2001.
- Conducted 700 hours of research and cataloguing for a class action lawsuit.
- Spokesperson for the West Ipperwash Property Owners Association with the Assessment Review Board from 1995 to 2001during the litigation on the West Beach Land claim.
- Keynote speaker at inaugural March for Freedom event in Caledonia, ON, Oct 15/06
- Co-presenter of The Ipperwash Papers project at Queen’s Park media studio, March 14/07
In short, if you want to know anything about land claim issues, or violence and native crime against residents in Ipperwash, Mary-Lou LaPratte was – and is – the person you needed to talk to. Despite her impressive credentials, however, the Ipperwash Inquiry refused to allow her to testify, and refused to publish the chronological history project she submitted in July 2004.
Mary-Lou’s quest for justice and recognition for Ipperwash’s forgotten victims, and her contribution to The Ipperwash Papers on behalf of her community and all others in Canada who will face landclaim violence in the future is a remarkable legacy. She was once – unsuccessfully – nominated to The Order of Canada for her tireless, courageous work. I can only hope that she will live to see the day when the Governor General finally recognizes her for what she is: a true Canadian hero in every sense of the word.
Until that day arrives, however, we can each individually honour Mary-Lou LaPratte by reading her account of the Ipperwash agony, by asking the media in our communities to tell her story, and by pressuring our politicians and police to end racially-based policing practices forever in our province.
“The complete loss of the Rule of Law should be the message displayed on our radio shows, our news columns and our televised news programs. At Ipperwash, in fifteen years, all our exposure to news and radio, television and writing the government was to no avail. The media and the Politicians would not admit the truth of what was happening to innocent residents and visitors to our community.”
Mary-Lou LaPratte, Nov 01/07: as quoted in “What really happened in Caledonia…“
“[OPP officer] had us terrified to go back into our home. [My husband] was a wreck because he had very little sleep since the death of Dudley George and the desertion by the police. He felt he had to protect us alone since no one in authority would come in and help anyone. He is diabetic and his blood sugar was really unstable at this time with the stress. My nerves were so bad that [my husband] had to take me to see my doctor. I could not sleep and by this time my hair was coming out in chunks.”
“During the upheaval and afterwards several police officers and Native leaders were given special consideration for healing sabbaticals. I cannot recall any residents suffering the effects of criminal offences, property invasions, thefts, harassments and break and enters ever being referred by anyone to victim services.
No one considered those who had nervous break downs, could not work, suffered marriage breakdowns or those who eventually ended up abusing substances because of the post traumatic stress caused by no law and order.
We did not cause the events of 1995. In fact for years before we tried to let all levels of government know that aggression and discontent by the native faction was escalating in this area.
When the OPP became totally unavailable and redundant, we asked for RCMP to come in and were denied. We, ourselves, became victims for years of additional native aggression for absolutely no reason other than that those involved in criminal activity knew that the policies were in place that give them complete autonomy from the law.”
Mary-Lou LaPratte, June 23/04: The Ipperwash Papers, document A-1: Chronological history of Ipperwash events, submitted to Ipperwash Inquiry in July 2004, but never published
- The Ipperwash Papers website: www.ipperwashpapers.ca
- The Ipperwash Papers, document A-1: Chronology w/affidavit by MaryLou LaPratte
- VoiceofCanada, Oct 17/06: March for Freedom – what really happened in Caledonia on Oct 15/06 (Updated)
- VoiceofCanada feature (w/list of references): The Ipperwash Papers
- CaledoniaWakeUpCall feature: IpperwashGate
- National Post, June 02/07: Native violence becomes blameless – Ipperwash report effectively legitimizes illegal protests REPRINT
- National Post, June 02/07: For natives, a legal free-for all
- VoiceofCanada series: Strength of a Woman