FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – Fort William Chief Peter Collins says he would like to work with the new Police Services Board and leadership from Nishnaabe Aski Nation to seek solutions to Thunder Bay’s toxic environment.
“The board is responsible for part of that,” says Chief Peter Collins. “Directly or indirectly, they contributed to the creation of the environment for systemic racism. We must advocate for proper resourcing from the federal and provincial governments to support the Thunder Bay Police Service.”
Fort William councillors echo the willingness of Chief Collins to work together with the new board and surrounding leadership
“I think it’s about time they attempt to straighten out the board,” says Councillor Sherry Pelletier. “It’s going to be difficult, but let’s hope this training helps.”
Councillor Jennelle Charlie, says, “Systemic racism within the police force is unacceptable and continues to marginalize an already venerable population. However, we need to work collaboratively with our Indigenous partners, agencies, communities and their citizens, to address the issues and implement the recommendations.
Councillor Phil Pelletier says that problems existed long before reports were released.
“We all knew what the problem was before we heard about it in the reports – we lived it every day. So what do we do about it now? I think it will be beneficial to sit down with the new board and work with city police.”
Councillor Michele Solomon says that she is pleased that the reports reflect what is going on in Thunder Bay.
“I am grateful that the reports reflect the long-standing problem of systemic racism within the Police Service and we know that these issues exist in other institutions in Thunder Bay as well,” says Councillor Solomon. “I view the reports as an opportunity to get honest and do what is necessary to tackle the recommendations. There is no room for complacency and denial to move forward, but rather we need individuals at the Police Services Board who are willing to truly understand how historic relations have led us to where we are today.”
Chief Collins hopes there is an immediate implementation of the recommendations because it is necessary for any kind of real change.
“If we let the recommendations linger, they will not get resolved,” says Chief Collins. “A Fort William citizen is one of the nine whose investigation will be reopened. We hope that due diligence will happen this time around and the family will have some closure.”