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Sam George honoured

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Sam George honoured

Ministry of Indigenous Affairs

Brad Duguid, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, rises in the Legislature to honour First Nations advocate Sam George for seeking justice and a better future for First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Ontario.

Mr. George worked tirelessly to gain support for an inquiry into the death of his brother at Ipperwash Provincial Park and continues his work to support the implementation of the recommendations of Justice Linden's report.

In recognition of his achievements, Mr. George has been invested into the Order of Ontario and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has dedicated its Resource Library to his legacy.


Statement

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the house today to honour Maynard Sam George, a true hero and advocate who has dedicated his life to seeking a better future for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Ontario. Sam is the brother of Dudley George who tragically lost his life in Ipperwash Provincial Park in September of 1995.

Mr. Speaker, I am standing here with you today in this house as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs only because of Sam. If it had not been for Sam's efforts to pursue justice for his brother and community, there would not have been an Inquiry. This Inquiry, headed by Justice Linden led to the Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry, which recommended the creation of a stand-alone Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.

I must also pay tribute at this time to a very close friend and ally of Sam, the Honourable Gerry Phillips, who worked tirelessly with Sam in pursuit of justice and reconciliation. I would also like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Michael Bryant, for his work on both the setting up of the Inquiry and implementation of the recommendations.

Sam continues to promote healing between communities and to support the implementation of the recommendations of the report. He has not only been fearless in his search for the truth, but also, more recently, in dealing with some very significant health issues. We're all confident that Sam George's grace and courage will serve him well during this challenging time.

The report, made possible through the efforts of Sam George, sets out the road map for the government and First Nations, working together, to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.

We have taken the report's recommendations to heart. We learned that after generations of setbacks, we can, must and will do better. We are working with Aboriginal leadership to identify priorities for implementation. And, Mr. Speaker, I am happy to tell you that we are making progress together on implementing those recommendations.

Sam asked from the beginning that Ipperwash Provincial Park be returned to the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, and Mr. Speaker, last December, our government committed to transferring the Park. We are working in partnership toward that goal.

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to building a new and stronger relationship with First Nation and Métis communities based on trust and respect as we work together on joint initiatives. The New Relationship Fund, another of Justice Linden's recommendations, which we announced on May 15, 2008, is designed to promote economic development opportunities in Aboriginal communities and build the capacity to consult with government and the private sector on resource development and other important initiatives.

Sam George has built an honourable and lasting legacy. In recognition of his efforts, Sam George was invested into the Order of Ontario in November - the Province's highest honour. This tribute will serve as a permanent reminder to the people of Ontario of what Sam has achieved.

And, Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege to further honour Sam by dedicating my ministry's Resource Library in his name. This Sam George Resource Library will serve as another permanent reminder of Sam's tireless efforts to increase public awareness of Aboriginal issues in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, there are few heroes in our society. Heroes only come along a few times in a generation. I can say unequivocally that Sam George is a true modern day hero. His courage, grace and perseverance in the face of tragedy stands as a role model to not only First Nation, Métis and Inuit, but all Ontarians.

Sam, your brother Dudley would be so proud of you today. Your efforts have brought change that can only be described as historic when it comes to improving the relationship between the Province of Ontario and First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities.

Sam, on behalf of the Government of Ontario, my colleagues here in this Legislature, and the people of Ontario we honour you today. We honour your wife, Veronica, and your family. And I say on behalf of the people of Ontario, Miigwetch.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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