Indigenous leaders jointly call upon Ontario Government to take immediate action on Thunder Bay Police Service

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.

In unity,

Reg Niganobe, Grand Council Chief, Anishinabek Nation

Anna Betty Achneepinesku, Deputy Grand Chief, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Tamara Spence, President, Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre