APTN National News
Ontario’s police watchdog is asking Indigenous people in the Thunder Bay area to provide information as part of the organization’s systemic review of the Thunder Bay Police Service.
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) has released the terms of reference for the review in three different Indigenous languages.
“With this systemic review of the Thunder Bay Police Service, the OIPRD wants to reach out to Indigenous Peoples to inform them of the review,” said Gerry McNeilly, director of the OIPRD in a statement. “We decided that having the Terms of Reference for the review available in Ojibway, Oji-Cree and Cree was the best and most appropriate way to do that.”
The terms include inviting written submissions from individuals and groups with knowledge or expertise on the issues outlined as part of the review.
The systemic review of Thunder Bay police comes after an inquest looked into the deaths of seven First Nations students going to school in the city. The inquest was critical of how the Thunder Bay police investigated their deaths. There are also two other OIPRD investigations against the TBPS for allegations of racism and discrimination.
“Alarming questions have been raised about the way the Thunder Bay Police Service investigates the disappearances and deaths of Indigenous people,” said McNeilly.
“Indigenous leaders and community members say that these investigations, and other interactions with police, devalue Indigenous lives, reflect differential treatment and are based on racist attitudes and/or stereotypical preconceptions about the Indigenous community. It is critical that these issues be independently examined through a systemic review, which would enable me to effectively address the issues and make meaningful recommendations for improvement.”
The police services board recently voted unanimously in favor of designating a seat on the board to an Indigenous citizen.
The OIPRD said the purpose of the review is not to assign individual fault but to determine if systemic failings have occurred.