(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the below statement in response to the report made public today by Senator Murray Sinclair on the Thunder Bay Police Services Board (TBPSB).
“Senator Sinclair’s report further confirms systemic racism in the Thunder Bay police force and underscores the urgent need for transformative change in policing in Thunder Bay. The Board has failed to recognize and address the violence and systemic racism against Indigenous people in Thunder Bay,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Today’s report explains, the Board failed in its duty to lead and create engagement that would resolve the issues within the Thunder Bay Police Service. It was clearly the responsibility of the TBPSB to identify critical issues, provide leadership to resolve concerns, and develop and plan concrete action focused on respect and building trust. We need to see police valuing the lives of our people and a refocus toward service, safety and protection. Any effort to implement recommendations and change should be done collaboratively with First Nations experts and rebuilding a relationship that has been strained for far too long.”
Senator Murray Sinclair was appointed by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) in July 2017 to investigate the Thunder Bay Police Services Board. Among 32 recommendations to address systemic racism, the report calls for the board to be dismantled for one year, with oversight replaced by an administrator. The report comes days after the Office of the Independent Police Review Director confirmed systemic racism within the Thunder Bay Police Services and that city police devalue the lives of First Nation people.
The OCPC investigation was conducted in response to concerns raised by First Nations leaders from Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Grand Council Treaty 3 and the Rainy River First Nation regarding the Thunder Bay Police Services Board’s oversight of police services following a series of deaths and race-based violence against Indigenous peoples in Thunder Bay. The OCPC is an arms-length agency of the Ontario government.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
For media requests or more information, please contact:
Jenna Young Castro
AFN Senior Communications Advisor
613-241-6789 ext. 201
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382