Ottawa police confirm officer posted ‘racist’ comments about Annie Pootoogook’s death

Ottawa police said Tuesday one of their members was under an investigation stemming from a Police Chief’s complaint over “racist” online comments

(Sgt. Chris Hrnchiar in his Ottawa police uniform. Facebook)

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Ottawa police said Tuesday one of their members was under an investigation stemming from a complaint from the chief of police over “racist” online comments posted in response to a story about the death of Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook.

Ottawa police spokesperson Const. Mark Soucy confirmed in an email the investigation into the officer’s online comments is currently ongoing.

“We are aware of the complaint regarding the comments posted online by an (Ottawa Police Service) member,” said Soucy, in the email. “A Chief’s complaint has been initiated and an investigation is underway. We won’t have any further comment at this time.”

The comments were posted Saturday by Sgt. Chris Hrnchiar who used his personal Facebook to log into the Ottawa Citizen’s comment section. Hrnchiar was responding to a story about the death of Pootoogook who was found submerged in the Rideau River on Sept. 19.

Pootoogook’s death is being treated as suspicious by Ottawa police investigators.

Police initially said foul play was not suspected, but investigators now say suspicious elements in the case demanded closer inspection.

Hrnchiar’s comments stated that Pootoogook’s death “has nothing to do with missing or murdered Aboriginal women.”

He said Pootoogook’s death was not caused by murder.

“It’s not a murder case….it’s could be a suicide, accidental, she got drunk and fell in the river and drowned who knows…..typically many Aboriginals have very short lifespans, talent or not, (sic)” said the comment, posted Saturday.


His second comment, also posted Saturday, claimed Indigenous people were the authors of their own misfortune.

“Because much of the aboriginal population in Canada is just satisfied being alcohol or drug abusers, living in poor conditions ect…..they have to have the will to change, it’s not society’s fault, (sic)” said the second comment.



A member of the public spotted the comments and sent an email of complaint Sunday evening to both Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

“The posts are troubling for the overt racism of the text, but they are all the more distressing given that they appear to be made by Chris Hrnchiar, who I recognize as a sergeant with the Ottawa police service,” said the email, also sent to two reporters by Veldon Coburn. “I’m particularly troubled that an officer, either past or present, would harbour these racist views. It puts into question all involvement such an officer had in the administration of justice, especially cases that involved Indigenous peoples.”

Bordeleau responded to Coburn the same day.

“My staff will follow up and take appropriate action if found to be one of our members,” said Bordeleau, in his email, which was forwarded to APTN National News.

Coburn told APTN he was disturbed when he first read the comments.

“Racism of all stripes is appalling, but it is particularly egregious when it is doled out by a police officer at the expense of Indigenous peoples,” said Coburn. “In this case, the racist remarks posted by a police officer in response to a story on the suspicious death of an Indigenous woman, Annie Pootoogook, only serve to remind us of the critical need of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.”

APTN attempted to contact Hrnchiar by telephone and email, but received no response.

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Editor’s Note: Story was updated on Sept. 27 to change the date of the posted comments.

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12 thoughts on “Ottawa police confirm officer posted ‘racist’ comments about Annie Pootoogook’s death

  1. It’s a great illustration of the entire problem. I’m grateful the police chief was drunk enough, stupid enough, or [most likely] COMPLETELY RACIST ENOUGH to show his true colours publicly. He actually believes his prejudiced opinions are fact, and will be shared, accepted by most. #proof

  2. I think it is suspicious whenever a Native is reported to have drowned. Most Natives are strong swimmers. I think it is highly inappropriate for anyone to express this kind of callous disregaurd for human life. Artist often suffer in extreme ways it is somehow this suffering which gives depth their imaginations and brings vibrancy to their work. We are all greatly diminished when we lose any artist and indeed by any unnecessary loss of life. i am surprised that an officer in Ottawa especially which has a large Inuit Community does not understand the close nature of this community and how devastating this tragedy is for everyone. My sympathy and my condolences to the family and friends. Annie Pootoogook was loved and will be missed.

  3. I would rather take this moment to pray to the Creator that this poor suffering woman who contributed so greatly shall finally Rest In Peace

  4. What is really disturbing here, is the fact that every life is worth something to a family, friends and community. If this person working for public safety cannot see this and creates an environment with such ignorance, it is astounding that he is still on the job. Even training in sensitivity will not change an attitude such as this. I have lived around all walks of life since I was a child, and have never seen such hatred of late. This is just really disturbing, and vile, and this needs to be changed or our society will get more violent with such people’s teachings such as this.

  5. Thoroughly disapointed #OttawaPolice #PrinceWilliam

    Once again accountability comes into play. As in Hobbs Leviathan chaper 13 , the natural condition of man kind as concerning their felicity and misery, essentially focusing on social order, which is decided by the state/sovereign. For instance your example of racism.

    Hobbs leviathan chapter 13 states “For savage people in many places of America, except the government of small Families, the concord whereof dependent on natural lust, have no government at all; and live at this day in that brutish manner, as I have said before”. This super imposition of disorder on the “savages of America” is not an appropriate assumption. Thus providing an opportunity for the sovereign/state to fully enforce order. The order came in the form of the genocide (United Nations definition) and Indian act.
    Not to mention the prior to the British settling in the maritimes, the French and the Micmaq lived in harmony for decades.
    Thus, Canada remains under sovereignty but at the same time injust policies and discrimination resonate through generations.
    The understanding that it was not the present state or soverign, but the notion originated from the soveregn and state.
    Mending the injust and recognizing and moving forward in a colaborative manner is what needs to be done.
    Unfortunately a highly regarded person with in our society has perpetuated such atrocities.
    This is not appropriate and the officer shall be accountable for his own actions.

  6. This is how most police officers in Canada act when they don’t think they can be held accountable. The officer will get a slap on the wrist, and will get back to the job he loves: treating minorities like crap. He is just like the rest of the police forces, the crown attorneys and justices in Canada.

  7. Officer should lose his job! He doesn’t deserve the title. Canada can do without one racist police officer…Prime Minister Trudeau…you can’t ignore or sweep this under the rug!

  8. oh this is looking a lot like North Carolina racist cops ! I sure hope he gets reprimanded good and maybe sits at a desk, cause he sure won’t be helping the community. and did he ever look at all the white people running to go by their wine after work! I didn’t think so! phhhttttt, and he’s going to Protect and Serve! Time for change with these kinds of cops.

  9. How is a person like this, with these kinds of attitudes, even allowed to be a police officer?

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