(January 5, 2021 – Toronto, Ontario) On January 1, 2021, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Chancellor of the Order of Ontario, announced 25 new appointments to the 2020 Order of Ontario, the province’s highest honour, including former Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris. Mike Harris was the Progressive Conservative Ontario Premier of the mid-1990s who oversaw the 1995 Ipperwash crisis when Dudley George, an unarmed man, was shot dead by a police officer as First Nations protesters occupied Ipperwash Provincial Park.
“This announcement of Mike Harris being appointed to the 2020 Order of Ontario has opened up an unhealed wound for First Nations. During the 1995 Ipperwash crisis, the events that took place revealed the embedded, systemic racism that runs within much of Canada. The Order of Ontario is intended to honour individuals whose exceptional achievements have left a lasting legacy in the province, in Canada, and beyond. This announcement is hurtful to First Nations in Ontario” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald.
“A healing path is needed today. The Ipperwash Inquiry shed light on the instances that led up to Dudley George’s death and laid the foundation for a path to reconcile our differences; however, it was abandoned and, therefore, remains unfulfilled. It is important that collectively, First Nations and the Government of Ontario create a healing space where we can reconcile the painful moments from our shared history.
To move forward, I am requesting the Government of Ontario defer the award to Mike Harris and complete the work of the Ipperwash Inquiry for the purposes of continuing a path forward, with a revitalized approach and long-term solutions to healing this and other wounds.
First Nations have always been committed to peaceful sharing of the lands and wealth with settlers. To maintain good relations and prevent further instances like these from happening, I encourage the Ontario Government to take this opportunity to make our mutual dreams of safe, healthy and vibrant communities a reality.”
Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario.
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