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Rainy River First Nations on OIPRD Report

Raining River First Nation Manitou Rapids

THUNDER BAY, Ontario  —  December 12, 2018  (LSN)  The Ontario Independent Police Review Director released a 200-page report concluding that the evidence “overwhelmingly supports the existence of racism” at the Thunder Bay Police Service

Death investigations were “too often handled differently because the deceased was Indigenous”, finds OPIRD Director Gerry McNeilly.

The Director found that, “the inadequacy of Thunder Bay Police Service sudden death investigations that the OIPRD reviewed was so problematic that at least nine of these cases should be reinvestigated.” The recommendation to reopen these nine deaths will be difficult for the families, but this may represent the first time that these deaths have been taken seriously.

The Director has requested a six-month report, and annual report for the next three (3) years as to the progress of the Thunder Bay Police Service in implementing his office’s recommendations.

Brad DeBungee – “It has been over 3 years since I lost my brother Stacy. I could feel in my heart from the first day I dealt with a police officer that he treated me and my family differently because we are Indigenous. Now the proof is out, and they must answer for this.”

Chief Robin McGinnis, Rainy River First Nations – “Rainy River First Nations is committed to supporting each and every family in our communities. What the DeBungee family has been put through by the TBPS is unforgiveable. The findings by the Director that there is overwhelming evidence of racism at the Thunder Bay Police Service vindicates this long battle. We look forward to hearing the leadership of the service provide the acknowledgments of the existence of racism that the Director has recommended. We would like to go forward in a good way, but that can only be done if the leadership of the Thunder Bay Police Service, both the Chief and the Board, admit the existence of racism against our people and a commitment to fix it.” “We want to hear from the TBPS that it is ready to make a change in the way they do business. The Report requires the TBPS to report annually to the OIPRD on its progress until 2021. If there is no evidence if compliance with this requirement, Rainy River First Nations will be calling for the service to be disbanded.”

Jim Leonard, Former Chief of Rainy River First Nations – “These findings have been a long time coming. The conclusion in the report that “systemic racism exists in the Thunder Bay Police Service at an institutional level” is an indictment of the entire leadership. If they are going to get their house in order, they need to acknowledge their problems and become accountable. We wrote the Board, offering to work with them, and they refused. Perhaps now, they will want to work with us.”

Julian Falconer, counsel to Brad DeBungee and Rainy River First Nations – “The findings of this OIPRD Report are absolutely unequivocal regarding the widespread nature of racism that is rampant at the TBPS. The report is unprecedented. I have never seen a report of an entire police force on this level with these findings.”


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THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO -  December 2, 2018  (LSN)   Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and First Nation leaders are calling for answers after a video surfaced this weekend that appears to show a member of the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) striking a First Nation youth while receiving medical care.


“We are outraged by the actions of the officer depicted in this video. We do not know all of the details that led to this incident, but there is simply no justification for such violent and callous treatment of a youth in such a defenseless position,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “Such actions by the police, whatever the cause, must be fully independent authority and the results made public by the Chief of Police.”

The brief video, posted to Facebook last night, appears to show an officer striking a youth restrained on stretcher next to an ambulance. The words “You’re going to the hospital” can be heard.


It is not clear why the youth, a 17-year-old from Nibinimik First Nation and student of the Matawa Learning Centre, required medical attention. Police officials have confirmed that an investigation has been launched but have not clarified if it will be independent of the TBPS.


The viral video has sparked outrage from First Nations across NAN territory, who have a long history of conflict with the city’s police force. 


First Nation leaders called for the resignation of former Thunder Bay Police Chief J.P. Levesque following a report from the Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) earlier this year that documented “substantial” deficiencies in the investigation into the death of Rainy River First Nations member Stacy DeBungee in 2015. Levesque also faced charges of breach of trust and obstruction of justice in an unrelated matter but the case was dismissed. He has since retired.


In November 2016, the OIPRD announced a systemic review of the Thunder Bay Police Service’s practices for policing Indigenous Peoples. Specifically, policies, practices and attitudes regarding missing person and death investigations.

The Thunder Bay Police Services Board is also under investigation by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC), the statutory governing body for police boards in Ontario. Program or Department Name Here



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