THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler has issued the following statement demanding the resignation of the Government of Ontario’s recent appointment to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board:
“It is unacceptable and insulting that a person who has expressed support for Senator Beyak’s racist actions would be appointed by the province to the board tasked with restoring the trust of this city’s troubled police service with the Indigenous community. Policing is in crisis in Thunder Bay, and there is no place for a Residential School apologist to service a community that is struggling to rebuild the relationship between its police service and the Indigenous population. We demand that the province rescind this appointment or that Mr. Cyr submit his immediate resignation.”
Cyr, a Thunder Bay lawyer, was appointed to the board for a three-year term on Tuesday. In a 2017 letter to a local newspaper, he expressed support for the posting of suspended Senator Lynn Beyak’s racist letters regarding the Indian Residential School system as being ‘balanced and thoughtful.’
John Cyr is currently a lawyer at Kasbonika Lake First Nation and a former Partner at Weiler Maloney Nelson. His community involvement includes serving as a member and Chair of the board for St. Joseph’s General Hospital. He is a member of the Thunder Bay Law Association and a member of Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and Conservative party of Canada.
Senator Beyak was removed from the Conservative caucus last year. She was suspended from the Senate earlier this month after refusing to take down the racist letters from her website, and for refusing to apologize for posting them.
The Thunder Bay Police board was disbanded following a report in 2018 that documented its failure to recognize and address violence and systemic racism against the Indigenous Peoples in Thunder Bay. That report followed a scathing report by the Ontario Independent Police Review Director documenting systemic racism in the Thunder Bay Police Service, and recommended new investigations into nine cases involving the deaths of Indigenous people.