TORONTO – “We welcome the two recent reports OPIRD Report by Gerry McNeilly and OCPC Report by the Honourable Senator Murray Sinclair and their 98 recommendations in total. Senator Sinclair’s Report’s principal finding is that the absence of leadership has lead to an institutional climate of systemic racism that has now become normalized. Thunder Bay is highlighted in this report and through consistent media attention; however, problems with systemic racism in policing agencies exist across Ontario. This is an ongoing safety issue that must be addressed in true partnership with First Nation communities in Thunder Bay and across this province immediately.
As Regional Chief, I stand with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Grand Council Treaty #3, Rainy River First Nation and other First Nation leaders across Northwestern Ontario in their commitment to holding the Thunder Bay Police Service Board accountable for their treatment of First Nations people in Thunder Bay. We see the leadership in Northwestern Ontario as champions not only for their regions but all across Ontario. The solutions found on the ground in those areas can have a positive impact across the province”.
‘A key finding of the report is that Boards’ planning, policy-making and oversight have for years been conducted without diverse input from the First Nations in the city and surrounding area – a key segment of the population. It is therefore absolutely essential, both as a matter of principle and as evidence of good faith, that the selection and appointment of the proposed Administrator be made in consultation with the Indigenous community whose concerns gave rise to this Investigation.’ – Honourable Murray Sinclair.
“This recommendation, unfortunately, has been overlooked as the appointment of Thomas Lockwood as administrator was done without consulting First Nations,” said Regional Chief Archibald, “We have to address this immediately.”
“I commend the Chief of Police, Sylvie Hauth and the Police Services board for their acknowledgement of systemic racism within the Thunder Bay Police Service and the failure the board caused to the Indigenous community of Thunder Bay and surrounding areas,” said Regional Chief Archibald.
Hauth also stated the need for a thoughtful and impactful plan to address the issues of systemic racism within the service and the board, consultations will begin in the New Year to formulate a plan of action. “As Grand Chief Fiddler stated, acknowledging the problem is the first step in solving the problem. I’m hopeful that a process will unfold that will initiate healing and a clear action plan to ensure First Nations people are safe and protected in Thunder Bay.”
Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald