Thunder Bay police under review in treatment of Indigenous peoples

Policing/Prisons

Do you have concerns about the policing of Indigenous peoples in Thunder Bay? Have you had experiences of racism, or of practices you thought were unfair or that could be improved? Now is the time to speak up.

A systemic review has been launched about the practices of Thunder Bay Police Services in policing Indigenous peoples. Written submissions are invited until January 31, 2017.

The review is being conducted by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). The OIPRD is a province-wide body that deals with complaints against police. In this case, it is conducting a systemic review, not just dealing with an individual case.

The Terms of Reference for the systemic review are quite broad. For example, they are considering issues of over-policing, under-policing, discrimination and racism-free policing, education and training, missing persons and death investigations, oversight and accountability, policies and practices, and communications with family members and First Nations.

Several recent events in the public eye have contributed to the review. One was the inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations high school students between 2000 and 2011, which wrapped up this summer with 145 recommendations, some of which dealt with police response. Another was the concerns raised about the handling of the police investigation in the case of Stacey DeBungee, whose body was found in the McIntyre River, a case which is still under its own investigation by the OIPRD. A case of racist comments allegedly posted online by police officers is also under OIPRD investigation.

The systemic review of Thunder Bay police will likely also contribute to the ongoing National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Anyone can make submissions to OIPRD for the systemic police review, including individuals, First Nations or groups. The OIPRD asks that submissions be made in writing, with the name of the person or organization making the submission. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2017.

If you would like help or advice in making submissions, or more information, please contact Judith Rae.

By Judith Rae