Whose Lake Is It Anyway?
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rating: +24+x

Whose Lake Is It Anyway?

Site-43 and the Ipperwash Crisis

All-Sections Chief
Nexus Affairs

Nexus.png

You may choose not to listen, but that doesn't mean you won't still hear.

— Kishkedee, Ojibwe elder, 1963

The men and women of MTF Gamma-5 stood at the edge of Ipperwash Provincial Park, a threshold they dared not cross. The air around them had grown icy cold, though it was only September. Their sophisticated communications equipment was gone, dragged into Lake Huron by small, hairy children with high voices and no noses. Their air support had waved off, unable to fly in the unseasonable winds which roared through the pines surrounding them. Hulking shapes loomed in the dark, human-like but bestial, growling guttural threats when any agent drew too close to the protected land. Tiny figures raced beneath the underbrush, hamstringing errant soldiers or tying their bootlaces together. Gamma-5 had come to drive Anishnaabe protestors out of the park, to prevent the discovery of Site-43 one kilometre beneath the contested Camp Ipperwash. They would go no further than this, however. Site-43 was on its own.


In 1928 the Stony Point First Nation of southern Ontario sold three hundred and seventy-seven acres of their land to developers. They had been approached politely, at first. When they'd refused to sell, the Department of Indian Affairs had approached them to impolitely coerce their consent. What they didn't lose in '28 they lost in 1936 and 1942: first with the creation of Ipperwash Provincial Park, and second when the Department of National Defence invoked the War Measures Act. The Stony were given fifty thousand dollars for the sad remnants of their homeland — which became DND Camp Ipperwash — and were resettled to the Kettle Point Reserve. This was to be their temporary home until a more suitable location could be found; perhaps unsurprisingly, none ever was. The Stony watched in horror as the Occult and Supernatural Activities Taskforce picked over their now-lost burial grounds and abused their sacred sites, looking for something paranormal to weaponize. They would spend the next thirty years protesting.

Ipperwash.jpg

Ipperwash Beach, 1996.

They always ask us: why are you still complaining? I remember your complaints when I was young. I remember your complaints when I was a child. My parents remember your complaints, and so do my grandparents. Why are you always complaining? They don't usually like my answer: we have only complained once. We started when the troubles began, and we'll stop when they end. When that happens, well, it depends as much upon you as it does upon me.

— Kishkedee, Ojibwe elder, 1966

The Stony Point Reserve should have been returned to the Stony at the close of the Second World War, but the DND claimed to still need the land for training purposes. Camp Ipperwash was a functioning military base, but it was also the blind under which Site-43 sat hidden. In 1981 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau advised Dr. V. Lesley Scout to abandon his Site and entrust the entire region to OSAT and the DND, citing the importance of supernatural research within the Cold War context and the increasing hostility of the Stony. Dr. Scout instead pursued diplomatic solutions, promising that he could satisfy all parties if merely given enough trust and time. Though he had proven entirely reliable over the past three decades — no Foundation official had more experience with both indigenous and native relations — these commodities were now both in short supply. Dr. Scout had great difficulty convincing Canadian politicians that the Foundation's work was valuable, and that the Stony's land claim held merit. Particular scorn was reserved for the concept of the SCP database, and the cataloguing of the surrounding Nexus-94.

I have some experience in these matters, and I will tell you: these people will not even allow themselves to be classified.1 You mean to classify their spirits? I say good luck to you.

— Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, 1981

In May of 1993, the Stony decided that the Second World War was almost certainly over. The Department of Defence's interdiction efforts had not counted on organized resistance, and that was what they soon faced. A group of Stony entered Camp Ipperwash — peacefully — and occupied the premises. The garrison remained, and tensions between them and the protestors rapidly made the use of Site-43's main topside elevator impossible. The Site was instead now accessed via the Inter-Sectional Subway System which connected to the town of Grand Bend; though supplies and personnel could still travel in and out, Foundation activities in the area were considerably hampered by the exigencies of the long train ride. Foundation efforts to advance into the park from without and dislodge the Stony were met with overwhelming resistance from the mythological creatures Nexus-94 had been created to isolate from the rest of Ontarian society. The Lake Huron facility had never felt more remote, or more covert, than it did at this time.

I've never been so happy to be so miserable. Everything, everything takes twice as long to do now. We can't bring in new anomalies, we can't keep our labs stocked, we're really in a bind and it never seems to end. Half of my projects have ground to an unspectacular halt. It couldn't be more obvious that we'll eventually have to do something about it, and that makes me smile. Nobody likes spiting their face if it means cutting off their nose!

— Lillian S. Lillihammer, junior researcher in Identity and Technocryptography, 1994

Camp Ipperwash was abandoned by the DND on 29 July 1995. The next day, Site-43's new Chief of Administration and Oversight, Dr. Allan J. McInnis, reactivated the topside elevator and entered the occupation zone. He revealed himself to the protestors, and explained that Camp Ipperwash was little more than a screen for the secretive organization the Nexus-94 elders had been negotiating with for the past five decades. One Stony Warrior, who had adopted the pseudonym "Nimkii," insisted that this claim be validated. McInnis agreed to do so. He brought Nimkii alone to the elevator, and allowed him to enter Site-43.

Our supposed policy with regards to the natives is one of consultation. I make it my business to test suppositions.

— Allan J. McInnis, Site-43 Chief of Administration and Oversight, 1995

Suitably impressed by the anomalies McInnis allowed him to observe, Nimkii made a pact with the Site Director: the former would attempt to convince his comrades to redirect their frustration against OSAT's operations in the provincial park, while the latter would earnestly pursue the return of the Stony's ancestral lands. Nimkii returned to his fellow protestors in triumph; they had already planned an expedition into the park before McInnis' intervention.

Harris.jpg

Premier Mike Harris.

In the meantime Ontario's provincial government was bristling at the protests, which were now attracting media attention — surreptitiously spurred by McInnis from behind the scenes. Premier Mike Harris had denounced the OSAT and DND experiments at Ipperwash as "so much mumbo-jumbo" in private discussions with Director Scout. His Progressive Conservative Party had been elected under the banner of a "Common Sense Revolution," cutting budgets (earning Harris the sobriquet "Mike the Knife") and cracking down on fraudulent use of government monies wherever it did, or in fact did not, occur. He considered the protests an unwelcome distraction, and the Foundation's supply of clean water to the reserves an encroachment on government responsibilities. When the Stony marched out of Camp Ipperwash on 4 September 1995 and occupied Ipperwash Provincial Park, Harris saw an opportunity to rid himself of both nuisances at once. Via the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), he demanded that both the Stony and the Foundation vacate the area or face reprisal.

The premier's desire for the protest to be dispersed rapidly, and his refusal to acknowledge that the protestors had any moral or legal basis for their actions, transferred into shock and awe tactics on the part of the OPP. They had helicopters in the air (made difficult by freezing clouds and turbulence presumably generated by mythological entities inhabiting Nexus-94 ) and boats in the water (subject to attack by SCP-5494). They infiltrated the occupation in plainclothes, while snipers tracked all movement between the camp and the surrounding land. An atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia pervaded on both sides.

Harris is a bum. This is what happens when you let a ski instructor run a province. "I'm mad that the Indians are mad" is the most ski instructor thing I've ever heard someone say.

— Harold R. Blank, junior researcher in Archives and Revision, 1995

The OPP repeatedly provoked the protestors, whose numbers were now swelling as natives from other Nexus-94 communities arrived in solidarity. OSAT and the DND withdrew from the park to avoid the intense, now global scrutiny being drummed up by McInnis for what was being called the Ipperwash Crisis. Dr. McInnis met with a frantic Harris at his Toronto offices on 6 September 1995, and recorded their entire conversation.

Dr. McInnis: You know that's impossible.

Premier Harris: I thought nothing was impossible for you people? That's what you told the Prime Minister. That's what you told [previous Premier] Bob Rae. You people topple governments. You're telling me you can't topple a little protest?

Dr. McInnis: Your inflexibility is calling down public attention on our facility. You're actively hindering our operations. The media presence is going to be staggering, soon, if someone doesn't reverse course.

Premier Harris: If anyone's reversing course, it's gonna be the criminals. Because that's what they are. Criminals.

Dr. McInnis: You're making this worse by refusing to negotiate.

Premier Harris: Legitimate governments do not negotiate with armed insurgents.

Dr. McInnis: Armed…? They're only armed because of your overwhelming show of force. Their grievances—

Premier Harris: They don't HAVE any fucking grievances! The only reason you're defending them is, you don't want us going in there and upsetting your little shell game. Showing everyone at Ottawa how empty your quiver is.

Dr. McInnis: So, you want us to disrupt a peaceful protest because you think we're liars? You want our help, so you're insulting and attacking us? You want—

A door opens. Premier Harris does not notice.

Premier Harris: I WANT THE FUCKING INDIANS OUT OF THE PARK!

Silence.

Attorney General Charles Harnick: ….sir?

Harris subsequently demanded that the protestors be removed within twenty-four hours. That night, the OPP quarantined the park and advanced using military-grade hardware and riot gear. Several altercations ensued: a protestor's dog was kicked into a ditch, several warriors (including Nimkii) were beaten with riot sticks, a Stony vehicle was fired upon, and Acting OPP Sergeant Ken Deane shot a protestor named Dudley George on the spurious charge that he was carrying a rifle. The OPP detained George and his family at Ipperwash for over an hour, resulting in his death. The public relations debacle which followed ensured that no provincial or federal force would dare to conduct further activities in the park; the Stony had dearly won both moral and media victories, though the latter was a mixed blessing as coverage often favoured the police and tended to emphasize that the protests had been unlawful.

They treated me like a vandal, like a hired thug. For coming when I was called. For helping people when they needed help. I wasn't living at Kettle Point, I was at university in Alberta when the occupation started. But I came home, because it was the right thing to do. Because not enough people outside of the reserves were doing anything at all. What did I learn? There was an entire army of people sitting on their hands beneath the sacred land, and they weren't happy about it… but they were still sitting. I decided I wanted to see if I could get them on their feet.

— Nimkii, 1996

McGuinty.jpg

Premier Dalton McGuinty.

After George's death and the dispersal of the occupying force, Nimkii demanded that the Foundation attend to their end of the bargain. Dr. Scout offered Nimkii employment as Site-43's liaison with the Nexus-94 reserves; this offer was accepted, and Nimkii became the first Chief of Nexus Affairs. Conscious of the unpredictability and bellicosity of the Harris Government, Dr. McInnis worked at orchestrating their downfall by strengthening the association between Harris and the Ipperwash Crisis. When the Progressive Conservative Party was finally defeated in the 2003 provincial election, now Site Director McInnis and his All-Sections Chief (the former Nimkii) pressured Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty to investigate the occupation and the police response. McGuinty was only too happy to oblige — though his own government would be at the centre of a not-dissimilar protest near the town of Caledonia just a few years later.

Obviously I don't think they should be protesting in this manner — it puts the general public in too much danger — and the question of developing their land needs to stay on the table. But Harris went about it the wrong way, and I'm not at all sorry to be the one to point it out.

— Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, 2004

The inquiry suffered a suspicious setback when Acting Sergeant Deane, who had killed Dudley George, was himself killed in a car crash before he was able to testify. Dr. McInnis, however, had a trump card to play. He blackmailed former Attorney General Harnick into committing the Premier's racist comments to the official record. Harris, his government, and the OPP were found negligent and hostile to the legitimate claims of the Stony, acting on little actual information but a great deal of racist and uninformed sentiment. Even then, it wasn't until 2015 that Ipperwash Provincial Park was finally in indigenous hands again.

Nevertheless, when Dr. Scout retired in 1996, he was in no doubt that his legacy was secure.

I never could conceive of the hands, however capable, to which I might comfortably relinquish my modest life's accomplishments. So I began collecting hands, as many diverse and varied as were available, and set them to work until two pairs ended up reminding me of my own. I doubt very much whether Director McInnis or his incomparable deputy will drop the ball.

— V. Lesley Scout, former Director of Site-43, 1997

Site-43 and Nexus-94 therefore now represent a largely autonomous, anomalous polity within Canada's most populous province. While the federal government continues to chafe under the restrictions imposed by our presence, they have made no further move to dislodge or discredit us, and the unusual but effective policies inaugurated by Dr. Scout and fully realized by Dr. McInnis have brought us into a new millennium of effective, efficient, ethical containment — in concert with, rather than in spite of, the long-established locals.

If only there had been a Foundation Site beneath the remainder of Canada's three thousand one hundred First Nations reserves.

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