By Dan Smoke – Asayenes (NNNC Staff)
Buffy Ste. Marie will headline a benefit concert in Massey Hall October 10th to honour the life of slain activist Dudley George, to help the George family with its trial costs, and to launch a permanent education fund for Aboriginal youth, in Dudley’s memory.
Contacted by the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT), which raised over $60,000 for the Ipperwash Justice Fund last year, Buffy said they hope, “to raise both awareness and money at the concert.
I have utmost respect for teachers who refuse to take silence as an answer to the questions surrounding Dudley’s death.”
BuffyShe will be joined onstage by emcee Tantoo Cardinal, and guests: Charlie Hill, Pura Fe, and Derek Miller and others.
“As a teacher myself before I was ever a singer, I have a hard time playing stupid when I want to know something and somebody wants me to forget it. As founder of the Nihewan Educational Foundation that has, since the 1960s, given away millions of dollars to students trying to make the world better, healthier, and smarter, I have seen scholarship recipients go on to great lives, including some who became the presidents of tribal councils,” she said.
She questions why there have been no answers forthcoming from the Harris/Eves government. “Educators all over the globe teach children that the world can be a better place through education, good leadership, healthful lifestyles, and working together. How do we explain to them the events of September 1955 that killed a member of our human family? Every autumn, school children reflect on the big “What happened?” when Columbus got off that boat.”
Were the Europeans who destroyed the indigenous worlds they found really as violent and underhanded as they seem? Or were they too victims of bad leadership that recurs again and again in weak human societies.”
Now Canadians, especially educators, are considering the possibility that such bad leadership might actually be condoning violence and underhanded coverups today, as in the death of Dudley George. As for me, I can’t sleep nights wondering what really happened. Like the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, I just want to know.”
Buffy Ste Marie has made 17 music albums, three television specials, spent five years on Sesame Street, scored movies, helped to found Canada’s “Music of Aboriginal Canada” JUNO category, raised a son, earned a Ph.D. in Fine Arts, taught Digital Music as adjunct professor at several colleges, and won an Academy Award Oscar for the song “Up Where We Belong”.
On September 6, 1995, Dudley George, unarmed, was protesting the destruction of a sacred burial ground at Ipperwash Provincial Park in southwestern Ontario when he was shot and killed by the OPP.
Ex-Officer Ken Deane was convicted of criminal negligence causing death to George and resigned from the OPP. The family launched a wrongful death lawsuit against the provincial government and for eight years they have been calling for a public inquiry, saying they would drop the lawsuit if an inquiry were held.
The government has consistently refused so the George family proceeds to court September 22nd, with the intention of exposing the truth about the events in Ipperwash that night.
Dudley’s brother, Maynard “Sam” George told NNNC having to go to court will be “a hard time for me and my family to get through, because that wound is still open.”
The wrongful death civil trial is expected to last at least four months before Mme. Justice Jean MacFarland, the judge who ruled in favour of Jane Doe’s civil lawsuit against the Metro Police. “I have to be there for that whole time,” George said, so he is moving to Toronto.
“It makes me feel good they’re going to create a scholarship in Dudley’s name to help other young people. A lot of good hearted people are supporting us. They believe in what we’re trying to do.”
George said he hopes the trial will allow “the truth to come out. We’re looking for who, why, when, where, and what happened that night. We are going into this with an optimistic feeling.”
The concert will be evidence of strong public support to see the truth exposed, to make the Ontario government accountable for its actions, and to ensure that Dudley’s name will live on through a permanent education fund for Native youth.