From today’s Sarnia Observer online:

After decades of wait and struggle, Stony Pointer Cathryn Mandoka is back home.

Mandoka is the first member of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation to move back onto ancestral lands at what was once Ipperwash Provincial Park.

“Ipperwash” dredges up a lot of pain among people who were there at the standoff in 1995, who identified with the Anishnawbe (Ojibway) peoples and what they have gone through – not just since 1993, when the occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park began, but for more than 80 years before. 

The name “Ipperwash,” however, also brings hope that maybe – just maybe – real change might be possible in this land where things move like molasses in January, and racial attitudes toward Indigenous peoples continue to be as vibrant as ever. 

Lambton Shores councillor Mark Simpson said the province has set a dangerous precedent when it comes to land claims. He worries that awarding land to a “special interest group” could open the government to a series of repercussions.

“To me, this is a dark day in the history of our community,” he said. “This sets a bad precedent.”

Yes, things are changing but the questions are: Will things change before another generation is ruined? More to the point, will they be for better or worse?

Dudley George is another name that brings mixed emotions. He was the first Indigenous person killed in Canada in the last century during a peaceful occupation to recover land that had been stolen from his peoples. For some, he is a hero. To others, he’s just another one of those individuals who knew when something was wrong, and who stood up because it needed to be made right.

Dudley’s brother, Sam George, is a soft-spoken man of great dignity and quiet determination. The occupation, the shooting of his brother by the Ontario Provincial Police, and Sam’s long fight to get a provincial government in full-blown denial to answer a simple question – What went wrong? – is the stuff of legend. 

Sam’s struggle to get past the slammed doors and official cover-up of a botched police raid eventually (I contend) toppled a provincial premier. It showed how petty those in power could be, and how profound the powerless were. The Ipperwash Inquiry showed how federal and provincial governments took part in legalized land theft, illustrated nearly a century of official denial of fundamental rights and the rule of law to the peoples of Kettle and Stony Point, and how racial attitudes contributed to an abuse of power and coverup at the highest levels of the Ontario Government of former premier, Mike Harris.

There are lessons here, questions too?


“To me, this is a dark day in the history of our community,” he said. “This sets a bad precedent.”

What’s to be learned? Who should learn them?


As a 10-year-old child in the 1940s, Bud Cloud was part of a forced relocation from the Stony Point reserve to the neighbouring Kettle Point reserve. His family lived in a house with no heat that winter.

The federal government said it would return the land after it was no longer needed as an army camp, but still hasn’t formally done so.

He now lives with other Stony Pointers at the former army camp, which has been occupied by the group since 1993.