Peter Edwards,
One Dead Indian:
The Premier, the Police &
the Ipperwash Crisis

(McClelland & Stewart, 2006)

This is the story, told in all its sad detail, of how an unarmed Ojibwe man protesting a land claim was shot by police at Ipperwash Park Ontario in 1995.

One wonders how such a tragedy could have happened in these times.

Mike Harris, the Conservative premier, had just taken over in Ontario; his government favoured a "get tough" approach with unions, First Nations and the poor. The 1995-2003 government is now remembered primarily for what happened in two locations: Walkerton, where seven people were poisoned by tainted municipal water, and Ipperwash, where Dudley George, the subject of this book, died.

On Ipperwash, a public inquiry is still ongoing, as of March 2006.

The George family had been evicted from this land in 1942. Dudley's ancestors' graves were on the occupied site. (Canadians honour the memory of another of Dudley George's ancestors, the great Tecumseh, who fought in 1812 along side the British and against the United States.)

Peter Edwards has been covering this story as a reporter since approximately 3 a.m. the day after Dudley George was shot, and his dogged reporting for the Toronto Star has helped this case stay in the public eye.

The truth in this case reveals itself simply in the wealth of detail available through the work of a reporter like Edwards. The facts speak one by one to paint a picture of possible political interference in the police operation that went so badly wrong on Sept. 6, 1995. That's the issue being revisited by the inquiry.

Yet new facts have emerged, even since this book appeared in a new edition early in 2006.

Among the people who knew the truth about what happened and why were two police officers; the one that shot an unarmed George with a machine gun capable of 800 rounds a minute, and the officer who ordered him into Ipperwash park. Neither could testify at the public inquiry, because, incredibly, both died in traffic accidents before having the opportunity. (So too did a female police officer who was in the park that night.) Because of this, we may never know the truth -- justice delayed being justice denied.

Edwards, with this book, sheds enormous light on this tragic episode in Canadian history. The true story of what happened, and the consequences of that night, continue to unfold.

by David Cox
6 May 2006

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