In Wake of Scathing Reports TBPSB Apologizes for “Failing Indigenous People”
On Sunday, a reconciliation ceremony was held and the Thunder Bay Police Services Board (TBPSB), apologized for failing to provide appropriate oversight of the city’s police service in how it treats Indigenous people. The TBPSB is pledging to work together with the entire community to move forward. Approximately 300 people were in attendance as a sharing circle concluded the event – the first of its kind in Canada.
On behalf of TBPSB, Thomas Lockwood stated, “As hard as it is to say, we have to acknowledge that there is systemic racism in the board and in the police service… I wish to apologize to each and every member of the Indigenous community of Thunder Bay for the existence of systemic racism…This community has suffered a lot over the years because of racism and for that, I apologize.”
Sinclair’s report found that the board failed in its duty to provide proper oversight to city police and did not adequately address concerns raised by Indigenous people about their interactions with the force.
Robin McGinnis, the chief of Rainy River First Nations stated, “The fact that it’s been acknowledged here today, I think…it’s a huge first step” “I have a sense of hope…hopefully I’m not disappointed but the acknowledgements today have backed up that hope I have.”
“Actions speak louder than words.” -Brad DeBungee
Moving forward for Brad DeBungee means reinvestigating the deaths of his brother Stacy DeBungee and other Indigenous people that the province’s police watchdog found lacking.
The apology “signals to everyone that mistakes have been made and we’re going to try and do better,” said Celina Reitberger, the chair of the TBPSB.
Reitberger said another sharing circle for people to share their experiences with city police is also being planned.
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