First Nation Leaders Say Police Can’t Repair Broken Trust
THUNDER BAY – NEWS – At a media conference in Toronto on March 30th, representatives of Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Anishinabek Grand Council called for change with the Thunder Bay Police Service.
This statement was released: “It is now painfully clear that Indigenous people have no trust in the Thunder Bay Police Service or the Thunder Bay Police Services Board. The repeated failures of the Thunder Bay Police Service require a fundamental re-examination of whether it should continue to exist. All of the ongoing investigations with the Ontario Civilian Policing Commission, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, or the Office of the Independent Police Review Director are all too familiar and ineffective in stopping violence perpetrated against Indigenous people. Expert reports are commissioned and penned only for police institutions to be unwilling and unable to substantively change, and ultimately, filing the reports where they are forgotten about until the next incident.
“Anishinabek, Mushkegowuk, and all Indigenous peoples have the right to feel safe and to be treated equitably within the City of Thunder Bay, especially by those sworn to serve and protect.
“Systemic racism exists within the Thunder Bay Police Service and needs to be ripped out at its roots. We demand that the Solicitor General of Ontario proceed with dismantling the Thunder Bay Police Service. The Ontario Government needs to prioritize listening to the Indigenous peoples who live, work, and visit Thunder Bay.
“As an immediate measure, the Thunder Bay Police Service should no longer be permitted to do major crime investigations. The Thunder Bay Police Service leaves a trail of inadequate investigations, a negligently managed records system, and a lack of substantive oversight. Trust is broken, and every day Thunder Bay Police Service remains in control of major crime investigations is another day Indigenous people are at risk in the city.
“We call upon the Ontario Government to serve and protect all of the citizens of Thunder Bay by fulfilling their duty to monitor police forces to ensure that adequate and effective police services are delivered.”
The Thunder Bay Police Services Board will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday April 2nd on this issue.
Kristin Oliver, the TBPSB chair says, “Our work to transform the Thunder Bay Police Service and address the deep systemic issues is ongoing. I, as Board Chair, understand more work needs to be done to rebuild our relationships with Northwestern Ontario Indigenous leaders and people”.
“Without trust in law enforcement from our community, the system doesn’t work. Ensuring investigative integrity among cases, especially involving our Indigenous communities, is paramount to rebuilding trust.”
The move comes after TBPSB member Georjann Morriseau has filed a third Human Rights Tribunal case citing systemic racism against her by members of the Board.
Morriseau is taking a leave of absence from the Police Services Board until April 30th, citing health reasons,
In her filing to the Human Rights Tribunal, Morriseau is seeking financial compensation of $50,000 from Board Chair Kristen Oliver, $50,000 from Board Secretary John Hannam, $100,000 from the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, $100000 from the City of Thunder Bay, and a further $100,000 from KPW Communications.
The Thunder Bay Police Services Board will be convening for an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss the concerns brought forward by Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum, and Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa.