Rainy River Takes Commissioner to Task Over OPP Misinformation

Yesterday, Chief Jim Leonard of Rainy River First Nations called for a retraction and apology from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner, Vince Hawkes. In a public statement issued, June 5, 2017, the Commissioner attempted to refute statements of NAN and Treaty 3 leadership asserting that the OPP had refused to investigate the death of Stacy DeBungee. Commissioner Hawkes announced, for the first time, that the OPP “in fact recently completed a review of the investigation relating to the death of Stacy DeBungee referred to OPP by the Chief of Thunder Bay Police Service. The report has been provided to the Thunder Bay Police Service.”

In Chief Leonard’s public statement, he writes, “For the sake of clarity and “truth-telling”, I am setting out the detailed written record of your refusals to answer me or the DeBungee Family and ultimately your refusal to conduct an investigation during the course of an outstanding OIPRD investigation. It is my expectation that the Commissioner will issue a public apology retracting any suggestion that the public statements of May 31, 2017 of the Grand Chiefs of Grand Council Treaty #3, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, as well as myself, were untrue or inaccurate.”

Chief Leonard also expressed that, “Sadly, your [Hawkes] efforts to discredit our well documented expressions of concern simply reinforce the view that your public statement of June 5, 2017 was little more than an awkward and disrespectful public relations exercise. Your laundry list of unrelated OPP activities in your public statement (relevant because they may have involved an Indigenous person?), that are in no way connected to Stacy’s death or the concerns of Rainy River First Nations, only serves to reinforce the reality that the OPP are out of touch with what is happening in Northern Ontario.”

Chief Leonard further points out that “Headlines such as “OPP refutes” make the point that the statement had the desired effect of attempting to discredit myself and my community, including the DeBungee family as well as the Grand Chiefs of NAN and Treaty 3.”

Related Documents

Letter to Commissioner Hawkes from Chief Jim Leonard   Rainy River First Nations, June 6, 2017

OPP Commissioner Contradicted by Mountain of Correspondence    Rainy River First Nations News Release, June 6, 2017

In the News

OPP Refutes Claim it Refused to Probe Stacy DeBungee’s Death   tbnewswatch, June 6, 2017

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