Thunder Bay – NEWS – Julian Falconer was pulling no punches in a press conference held in Thunder Bay today. “The Thunder Bay Police Service is now a broken record of broken trust,” Falconer said. “My clients are once again being left in the dark, denied the transparency and answers they deserve about what happened to Stacy DeBugee and about the role of the Chief of the Thunder Bay Police in the reinvestigation process.”
Falconer says that the Chief of Police Sylvie Hauth should not be a part of the investigative team or the oversight team on the investigations.
Falconer also thinks that the Thunder Bay Police Service should be replaced with a different police service. An obviously frustrated Falconer charged, “Now all things must come to an end and this service is one of them. The reality of the Thunder Bay Police Service is they are precisely the police service that those in power in the City of Thunder Bay want and they won’t change because those in power in the city of Thunder Bay don’t want them to change”.
Falconer continued, “Indigenous people will remain in danger, in jeopardy as long as the Thunder Bay Police are responsible for protecting their safety. We must bring this to an end. Another police service accountable beyond the borders of Thunder Bay, beyond a power structure for whom Indigenous people are an inconvenience is a necessity. The time has come to bring this horrible experiment to an end”.
The OIPRD launched a systemic review of the TBPS after receiving complaints in 2016 from Brad DeBungee, brother of the late Stacy DeBungee of Rainy River First Nations, and from the Chief of Rainy River First Nations, Jim Leonard. The complaints alleged a pattern of neglect by the TBPS in investigating Indigenous deaths. On December 12, 2018, the OIPRD confirmed in its report, Broken Trust: Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service, that systemic racism has left Indigenous deaths in Thunder Bay woefully neglected. Indigenous people have been treated as unworthy victims.
A statement from DeBungee’s family said they have “have no confidence in a reinvestigation process that Chief of Police Sylvie Hauth has any sway over.”
Falconer says that he is deeply concerned that the new TBPS investigative team hasn’t probed whether other Indigenous deaths should be reexamined, as was recommended by the 2018 Broken Trust report from the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
Caitlyn Kasper, a lawyer with Aboriginal Legal Services who is representing the families of Morrisseau, Anderson and Wabasse, said her team has lost confidence in the process and has “grave concern for the legitimacy of any final report released by this project moving forward.”
The Thunder Bay Police Service are not commenting at this point.