Shipping containers arrive at the former Ipperwash Provincial Park, May 14, 2021. Submitted Photo.Shipping containers arrive at the former Ipperwash Provincial Park, May 14, 2021. Submitted Photo.

Dudley George relatives lay claim to ancestral Ipperwash homelands

Relatives of the late Dudley George moved onto the former Ipperwash Provincial Park lands Friday, laying claim to their ancestral homestead.

A group of less than 12, representing three generations of descendants of Komonee and Sarah George, began occupying the lands by moving four large shipping containers on-site.

NaWalka Geeshy Meegwun, the great grandchild of Komonee and Sarah George, said historical court documents show the former park lands were illegally sold in 1929, long before residents of the Stoney Point Reserve were forced to surrender their lands to the federal government in 1942.

He said the occupation is notice to the band council of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation that they're reclaiming the lands.

"It's a group of leadership that has been elected and is an Indigenous leadership group that calls upon the province, calls upon the municipalities, calls upon the federal government to act on reconciliation, that they understand that reconciliation must happen, not just across the nation but it must happen within our own communities."

NaWalka Geeshy Meegwun said the decent and honourable thing to do, is for the council to approach their group and acknowledge that the land was taken illegally. He said they've placed four shipping containers on the land, and they're not moving.

"Documents and information have just surfaced that prove that it was an illegal sale of the land by the Indian agent through the township/City of Sarnia at that time," said Meegwun. "Those containers are to let people know that there is a matter of an illegal sale that happened. That the Indian agent we believe had used tools of oppression on our great grandparents to obtain that land so that the provincial and federal levels of government could turn that into a provincial park."

The group claims "tools of oppression" via the Indian Act included threats to send children to residential schools, and threats to control food rations, and that many times, language barriers played a negative role in surrender votes involving traditional family homesteads.

NaWalka Geeshy Meegwun said as natural heirs to the property, they're continuing the work of his father and other original Stoney Point descendants. He believes the band council is aware of the documentation.

Dudley George was also a great grandchild of Komonee and Sarah George.  He was shot and killed by Ontario Provincial Police in September of 1995 during an occupation of the same lands.

In 2020, the provincial and federal governments followed through on their promise to return Ipperwash Provincial Park to Kettle & Stony Point First Nation.  The lands included the traditional homestead of Komonee and Sarah George.

-With files from Dave Dentinger

Read More Local Stories