First Nations oppose degree for former premier
TORONTO - The fatal shooting of a First Nations protester in 1995 at Ipperwash Provincial Park in southwestern Ontario continues to haunt former Ontario premier Mike Harris.
Nipissing University's plan to confer an honorary doctor of letters on Harris in a June 11 convocation ceremony isn't sitting well with the province's aboriginal groups.
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee says, in the view of Ontario's First Nations, Harris does not deserve any honorary treatment.
"He doesn't deserve titles or tributes of any kind," said Madahbee.
"I can think of some appropriate letters Mike Harris should have in front of his name, not after it," he said.
Chief Marianna Couchie of Nipissing First Nation says her community will withdraw funding support for the new university library over the issue.
Madahbee said he supports that decision.
"You don't reward a person who was directly responsible for so much economic hardship and divisiveness in this province," he said.
The "hostile relationship" between the Harris government and Ontario's First Nations "led to the death of Dudley George at Ipperwash on Sept. 6, 1995," said Madhabee. "That is what Mike Harris will always be remembered for."
National Chief Shawn Atleo was also named by Nipissing University as a recipient of an honorary education doctorate. But it has been reported that he will decline because of the former premier's involvement.