Anishinabek Nation leadership support disbandment of Thunder Bay Police Service Board

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (December 19, 2018)— Anishinabek Nation leadership is supportive of the disbandment of the Thunder Bay Police Service Board and see this as an opportunity for the Thunder Bay Police Service and the future Thunder Bay Police Service Board to cultivate a strong, positive, and effective long-term relationship with surrounding Indigenous communities.

The Thunder Bay Police Service Board was disbanded by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission following the findings in the highly critical report prepared by Senator Murray Sinclair. The report is based on an investigation conducted by Senator Sinclair in response to concerns raised by First Nations leaders of oversights by police services following a series of deaths and race-based violence against Indigenous peoples in Thunder Bay.

“We commend Senator Sinclair’s recommendation to dismantle the existing board and I believe that it was a long time coming. Hopefully by deconstructing the board, it leaves room to construct a new board that will build a better relationship between the Thunder Bay Police Service and Board and the surrounding First Nations communities,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. “My hope is that with a clean slate, the new board members will bring with them new perspectives, open minds and expertise to the table that will allow for open, honest conversations that will hopefully pave the way to get ahead of crises that affect our communities such as the opioid crisis.”

A separate investigation was conducted by Gerry McNeilly of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director which yielded another report that generated similar findings as the Ontario Civilian Police Commission report: that racism, both overt and systemic, exists within the Thunder Bay Police Service at an institutional level, and the Indigenous population of Thunder Bay experiences racism on a regular basis.

“We support Director Gerry McNeilly and his 44 recommendations in his report and want to ensure that those recommendations are implemented promptly with a collaborative approach,” states Grand Council Chief Hare. “The findings of these reports have made it abundantly clear that our citizens that call Thunder Bay home or have to frequent the city for work or otherwise have experienced far too much discrimination – racism kills; in mind, body and spirit. The work towards mending fences and building bridges needs to start immediately so our people can feel safe again to walk the streets of Thunder Bay.”

“I echo the sentiments of Grand Council Chief Hare,” adds Northern Superior Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief Ed Wawia. “I believe that there is a lot of time and effort that will need to be invested in creating a new board that will fulfill their roles and execute their duties with everyone’s best interests in mind. I am willing and anticipating to get to work on this as soon as possible.”

The Anishinabek Nation is the political advocate for 40 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 60,000 people. The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

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