A report revealed a trend of police oversight and systemic racism towards the Thunder Bay Indigenous community.
Canadian Sen. Murray Sinclair is recommending the Thunder Bay police board be dismantled for a year after a damning report revealed racism and negligence towards Ontario's Indigenous, CBC said Thursday.
A report released Monday by police watchdog, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, showed high levels of police oversight, systemic racism, and an overall distrust of police in the community.
“Our detailed review of cases involving sudden deaths of Indigenous men and women found Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) investigators failed on an unacceptable high number of occasions to treat or protect the deceased and his or her family equally and without discrimination because the deceased was Indigenous,” Author Gerry McNeilly said in the report.
The 206-page study analyzed 37 murder cases assumed by the TBPS dating back to 2009 and found lazy police work, premature conclusions, and inadequate investigations which McNeilly attributed to “racist attitudes and racist stereotyping.”
The report also noted a desperate underrepresentation of Indigenous officers in the force as well as outdated training which overlooked key contextual issues of culture and history, Sen. Sinclair said, who plans to publicly release his own report Friday.
Sinclair, who formerly lead the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is recommending the Thunder Bay board be dismantled for a year and an interim administrator be appointed while the situation is addressed.
The study, entitled Broken Trust: Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service, was one of 44 recommendations for immediate action and not entirely shocking to many Canadian diplomats.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said, “We know that when there is a stereotype assumption that this death was inevitable, that we end up with a much lower quality of search, investigation and in the whole of the justice system, even in the charges laid or stayed.”
Marion Buller, chief commissioner of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), said, "There exists this attitude across Canada of 'us and them' on the part of police forces, though there are some great exceptions to the rule.
"If there's no time limit, especially [one] for reporting back to the public, then there's really not a lot of motivation to take action. Plans can just linger and nothing happens," she said.