First Nations Leaders Demand Ontario Dismantle Thunder Bay Police Service
First Nations leaders say police cannot fix broken trust
THUNDER BAY – NEWS – At a press conference in Toronto on March 30, representatives of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the Anishinabek Grand Council called for change with the Thunder Bay Police Department.
This statement was released: “It is now painfully clear that Indigenous people have no faith in the Thunder Bay Police Service or the Thunder Bay Police Services Board. The repeated failures of the Thunder Bay Police Service require a fundamental re-examination of whether it should continue to exist. All ongoing investigations with the Ontario Civilian Police Services Commission, the Ontario Human Rights Commission or the Office of the Independent Police Review Director are too familiar and ineffective in stopping the violence being perpetrated against indigenous peoples. Expert reports are commissioned and written only so that the police institutions are unwilling and unable to change substantially and ultimately lay the reports where they are forgotten until the next incident.
“The Anishinabek, Mushkegowuk and all Indigenous peoples have the right to feel safe and to be treated fairly in the City of Thunder Bay, especially by those who have sworn to serve and protect.
“Systemic racism exists within the Thunder Bay Police Service and needs to be rooted out. We demand that the Solicitor General of Ontario dismantle the Thunder Bay Police Department. The Ontario government must make it a priority to listen to the Indigenous peoples who live, work and visit Thunder Bay.
“As an immediate measure, the Thunder Bay Police Department should no longer be allowed to investigate major crimes. The Thunder Bay Police Department leaves behind inadequate investigations, a negligently managed records system and a lack of substantial oversight. Trust is shattered, and every day the Thunder Bay Police Department maintains control of major crime investigations is another day that Indigenous people are at risk in the city.
“We call on the Government of Ontario to serve and protect all citizens of Thunder Bay by fulfilling its duty to oversee the police force to ensure that adequate and effective policing services are provided.
The Thunder Bay Police Services Board will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday, April 2 on this matter.
Kristin Oliver, President of the TBPSB, says:Our work to transform the Thunder Bay Police Service and address deep systemic issues continues. As Chair of the Board, I understand that more work needs to be done to rebuild our relationships with the leadership and Indigenous peoples of Northwestern Ontario.”
“Without trust in law enforcement in our community, the system doesn’t work. Ensuring the integrity of investigations among cases, especially those involving our Indigenous communities, is paramount to rebuilding trust.
The move comes after TBPSB member Georjann Morriseau filed a third complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal alleging systemic racism against him by board members.
Morriseau takes leave from the Police Services Board until April 30, citing health reasons,
In his petition to the Human Rights Tribunal, Morriseau seeks financial compensation of $50,000 from council chair Kristen Oliver, $50,000 from council secretary John Hannam, $100,000 from the Thunder Police Services Board Bay, $100,000 to the City of Thunder Bay and an additional $100,000. of KPW Communications.
The Thunder Bay Police Services Board will convene an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss concerns raised by Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum and MLA for Kiiwetinoong, Sol Mamakwa.