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Focus on anger and no more camping misses the point and effect of Ipperwash

- July 10th, 2012

Speaking of Ipperwash, the feedback continues to roll in. One of the people who saw the story is Monica Virtue, a Woodstock filmmaker. I invited her to write a guest post for the blog and below are her thoughts. Take it away, Monica . . .

“We’ll start with footage of people being angry.”

A fellow filmmaker was helping me cut a new teaser for my documentary on Ipperwash, and this was his first piece of advice for me.

“That will be a problem,” I told him. “I followed Sam George with a camera. I hardly have any footage of people being angry.”

Besides, “angry” is not the Ipperwash I know. The most common emotions I’ve witnessed in my decade around the communities at Kettle Point and Stoney Point are fear and worry – with a lot of laughter thrown in.

Instead of anger, my behind-the-scenes film on Sam is a story about quiet determination – about working together and accomplishing huge goals. It’s about the sadness of losing a family member. And it’s about healing, and moving forward, and making something positive out of a situation that was negative for so many years.

So, although I spent the ’80′s personally playing on the sandbars of Ipperwash Beach, thinking about the former park now makes me quite sad – but for completely different reasons other than its current “temporarily closed” status. And after spending a decade working on a documentary that shows how Ipperwash affected so many for so long, I confess that the last thing I worry about is whether the park will be open again for camping.

I never met Dudley George; I was in my senior year of high school in Woodstock, Ontario when he died standing up for rights and a history repeatedly neglected or ignored by us over decades. But I did spend six years running after his brother Sam with my microphones and camera. I also got to meet Dudley’s other surviving brothers and sisters, and if Dudley was at all like them, I imagine he must have had quite a laugh.

From the moment I met them, Sam and his family have shown me nothing but kindness. They also showed me what can happen when you believe in something so wholeheartedly that you’re prepared to give up things like your financial security or health in order to achieve it. I watched Sam put a ton on the line in order to secure the amazing things that happened out of such a horrible situation. Ever since he passed away from cancer in June 2009, it’s been tough for me to go back through the hours of my footage of him.

And after sitting through the Ipperwash Inquiry’s hearings and listening to the heartbreaking stories of the witnesses who testified, Sam wouldn’t have wanted the 100 recommendations that came out of the Inquiry to sit on a shelf and collect dust. I know he felt that the recommendations could do a lot of good in the world – not just for his community and other First Nations people, but for all people in Ontario, and even across Canada.

After almost 10 years, I think it’s important to not forget Sam’s story and vision for everyone. I hope my behind-the-scenes film will make a difference and show a new perspective, but I need completion funds to get us across the finish line. So I’ve started a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo at www.indiegogo.com/ipperwashpark, of which not a single cent is going to me personally. I hope others will see the value in telling the human side of this story and will donate whatever they can and share the campaign on Facebook and Twitter before the August 5 deadline.

Sam George’s story has inspired me. Maybe it will inspire you, too?

Monica Virtue

INDIEGOGO: www.indiegogo.com/ipperwashpark
BLOG: http://monicavirtueproductions.wordpress.com/
WEB: www.monicavirtue.com
Facebook: Ipperwash Park: The Movie
Twitter: @IpperwashPark

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4 comments

  1. Wayne-101 says:

    Somehow if you dig deeper I’m sure you would find angry somewhere out there. How did it all start? Does it go all the way back to the white man supposedly stealing the Natives land and introducing a different culture and civilization, and Ipperwash is just a convenient substitute? I recall there were many intimidated people out in that area trying to deal with the “stand off” and bully boy tactics of blocking roads and burning things on the highway. Wasn’t that why the OPP were called— to enforce “law and order”?

    Interesting that both LFP writers use the term “sniper”? Was that an editors suggestion or is there more evidence that should be brought forward to show that was true. Was the law man who fired the shot using a military tactic to enforce the law, which at this point seems to have disappeared. Are you saying there was no reason to try to restore the rule of law and order at the time the shot was fired?

    What about the untimely death of that man, Kenneth Dean. We all know dead men don’t tell tales, so who or what was behind final installment of the Ipperwash episode?

  2. Hi Wayne,

    Yes, I did come across people who were angry. Lots of them. I chose to film with Sam because, a) he willingly gave me access because he wanted his story documented, and b) he chose not to wallow in anger and allow it to hold him in one spot. He always said he wanted to “turn negatives into positives,” and it wasn’t until I went back to my footage, three years after his death, that I even understood just how much he believed in that.

    I don’t want to give the impression I’m talking on behalf of anyone (other than myself and my own observations) but I really do like this clip. You might, too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlkuRCXdu5A

    As for the term “sniper,” I too would refer to Ken Deane as that. He was a member of the Tactical Response Unit (TRU Team). He wore night vision and used a high powered rifle. That was his job. The TRU Team was acting in co-ordination with the Crowd Management Unit (CMU) that night. More information can be found here:

    http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/inquiries/ipperwash/sw/past_witnesses.html

    You might like the testimony of officers such as Ron Fox (in the Dining Room Meeting with Mr. Harris), Mark Beauchesne (TRU Team), and Wade Lacroix (Commander of the CMU). The Incident Commander, John Carson, also graciously spent 21 days on the stand. Their evidence collectively paints a clear picture of what happened that night.

    There are also 100 recommendations issued by Justice Sidney Linden that are a great way to move forward. You may wish to read them as well.

    http://monicavirtue.com/html/ipperwash_recommendations_list.html

    Monica

  3. Don J. George says:

    Wayne- 101, the white man SUPPOSEDLY stealing the Natives Land??? You must be a Nazi or an Afgan, eh?That is our Native Land… so, we could come on your land and your home with guns and shoot someone in your Family, and you”d have no problem with that, eh??? Wayne-101, you must be one of the people who are trying to steal some of the Land my People have left… stay off our Land Wayne-101, you’re not at all welcome… matter of fact, go back to your own Land… oh yeah… u left it because your own people were, “picking on you…” you’re not welcome in this Land… go where you belong… with the nazi’s!

  4. Wayne-101 says:

    Don, are any Pale Faces allowed in “your land”? Sounds like you may be a racist yourself methinks. What claim did the “natives” have to the land other than merely occupying it, sort of like nomads. Were there such alien concepts as individual rights or property rights?

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