The newly unveiled Pays Plat First Nation flag. - Photo courtesy of Jesse Achneepineskum
In 1995, the Ipperwash Provincial Park was the site of a occupation by the First Nations people of Wiiwkwedong and Aazhoodena (Kettle and Stoney Point) where in the course of events; Dudley George was shot and later died. On November 12, 2003 a commission of inquiry was established with Sidney B. Linden as commissioner. The mandate of the inquiry was two-fold. Part one would ‘inquire into and report on events surrounding the death of Dudley George’ while part two would ‘make recommendations directed to the avoidance of violence in similar circumstances.’ The final report was released on May 31, 2007.
On September 18, 2007 First Nation representatives from the Political Confederacy (PC) and the Government of Ontario signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) confirming their intention to work towards the implementation of the final report’s recommendations. The two sides further agreed to establish an Ipperwash Inquiry Priorities and Action Committee (IIPAC), the creation of which was announced on December 4, 2007 by then Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (MAA) Michael Bryant and Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. IIPAC is a “senior level committee formed to provide overall direction on the implementation of the Ipperwash Inquiry final recommendations” and is intended to be the negotiating body for a new relationship between First Nations and the province of Ontario based upon the principles and practice of mutual respect and reconciliation. Co-chaired by the Ontario Regional Chief and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, IIPAC also includes members of the Political Confederacy alongside relevant cabinet ministers.
In preparation for negotiations, the Political Confederacy issued a motion in October 2007 creating a First Nation Ipperwash Task Force. Later formalized by the leadership at the Special Chiefs Assembly in February 2008 through Resolution 08/05 - Ipperwash Inquiry Final Recommendation –Implementation, the Task Force was mandated to, among other things, conduct research and analysis of the final report; suggest and develop strategies/processes for negotiations; and facilitate regional presentations/discussions on the Inquiry’s recommendations. Pursuant to the resolution, the Task Force is comprised of the technical representatives from the Chiefs of Ontario, the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, Grand Council Treaty 3, the Union of Ontario Indians, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Independent First Nations.
At the inaugural meeting on April 4, 2008 the IIPAC membership agreed to four priority initiatives, subsequently endorsed by the Chiefs in Assembly in Resolution 08/17 - Ipperwash Inquiry Priorities and Action Committee, and passed at the 34th All Ontario Chiefs Conference in 2008. These are:
- Treaty Implementation
o Establishment of a Treaty Commission of Ontario
- Land Rights and Interests
o Consultation and Accommodation
o Resource Benefit Sharing
- First Nations Jurisdiction
o First Nation Policing
o Jurisdiction Research
- Building Capacity
o Reconciliation Fund
o Heritage and Burials
The IIPAC then proceeded to form the Joint Ipperwash Technical Table (JITT) which set upon developing an organizational structure and the work plans for the above priorities. The seven work plans are:
- Treaty Commission of Ontario Consultation and Accommodation
- Resource Benefit Sharing
- First Nations Policing Services
- Recognition of First Nation Jurisdiction Dudley George Reconciliation Fund (Heritage and Burial Sites
Each work plan outlines the initiative’s objectives and directs the Task Force to implement the activities. Each initiative is comprised of one representative from each of the First Nation Political Territorial organizations, Grand Councils and the Independent First Nations, officials from the government of Ontario and the federal government where necessary.