THUNDER BAY – A pathway forward to enhance community safety has been shared following the Safe Streets, Safe Community forum held at the community auditorium. The meeting which was planned and organized by the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation was held on January 15th 2013.
Community Safety Forum
The “Safe Streets, Safe Community” Community Safety Forum was attended by over 200 representatives of Aboriginal organizations, municipal politics, law enforcement, and the general public. The need for cooperation in striving toward a safer community was stressed by the guest speakers, and members of the audience were asked to put forth possible steps toward concrete improvements in public safety. The purpose of the forum was to begin meaningful dialogue on the topic of community safety and encourage all stakeholders to become actively engaged in efforts to make Thunder Bay safer for all of its citizens.
Mayor Hobbs stated, “When I ran for mayor, I ran on a safe community platform and to date it has been a failure. However, we learn as we go. We have talked about relocating DFC with a safe residence, we as leaders must make sure that happens. As mayor, I want to protect all of my citizens; crime is crime and we must have everything out on the table or it will not be addressed”.
The forum, on January 15th was an important first step forward. Concerns from NAN communities across the North over the safety of young people attending schools in Thunder Bay have been expressed by parents, grandparents to their leaders.
Concerns over Student Safety
Norma Kejick, Executive Director, Northern Nishnawbe Education Council states, “One Tribal Council has withdrawn all of their students from Thunder Bay over safety concerns. Students have to constantly defend who they are, and some have been told that they are unwelcome at Inter-City Shopping Centre”.
Kejiick adds, “Students are already dealing with the struggles of being a teenager, and are seeing things that many have not dealt with prior to moving to Thunder Bay. Our staff try to act like parents and organize after school activities, but some students do not have the necessary coping skills for the changes. A true city safety plan must also have cultural relevance”.
A report on the meeting was prepared and released by NAN on Friday. That report included comment summaries from audience members as well as forum leaders.
A number of recommendations were made which are included in the Community Safety Forum Report.