Justice (25-42): Background Content

Thunder Bay Inquest

December 9, 2021

Fed. Govt., ON

Aboriginal Legal Services Report Card

Aboriginal Legal Services Progress Report on the Recommendations of the First Nations Youth Inquest: 2017 – 2020

Agency2017 Score2018 Score2019 Score2020 Score2021 Score
Government of CanadaDC+B+C+B-
Province of OntarioC+B-B+B-B-
City of Thunder BayC+A-ABA-
Nishnawbe Aski NationC+B-A-A-A-
Northern Nishnawbe Education CouncilA-A+A+A+A+
Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations High SchoolA-A+A+A+A+
Matawa Learning CentreA-BA+A+
Keewaytinook OkimakanakA-A+A+A+A+
Over-all Grade67% C+77% B+83% A-77% B+80% A-


December 9, 2021

Fed. Govt., ON

Aboriginal Legal Services Report Card

First Nations Youth Inquest Over-all Score

YearCompleteIn ProgressNothing Done
201715% (22)61% (88)24% (35)
201849% (71)44% (64)7% (10)
201957% (82)36% (52)7% (10)
202061% (88)33% (48)6% (9)
202164% (93)31% (45)5% (7)

December 9, 2021

Fed. Govt., ON

Aboriginal Legal Services Report Card

For complete details on how each of the stakeholders have scored on the Report Card, see the attached link:

  • Government Of Canada
  • Province of Ontario
  • City of Thunder Bay
  • Nishnawbe Aski Nation
  • Matawa Learning Centre
  • Northern Nishnawbe Ed. Council & Dennis Fraanklin FNHS
  • Keewaytinook Okimakanak


December 1, 2018

ON, Thunder Bay Police Services

BROKEN TRUST Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service, December, 2018

Office of the Independent Police Review Director
The OIPRD is an independent arm’s length agency of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. The OIPRD receives, manages and oversees public complaints about Ontario’s municipal, regional and provincial police. The Police Services Act gives the Independent Police Review Director the power to conduct systemic reviews. The purpose of a systemic review is not to find individual misconduct, but to identify and address larger issues of systemic importance and make recommendations to improve policing.

December, 2018

ON, Thunder Bay Police Services

BROKEN TRUST Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service, December, 2018

Office of the Independent Police Review Director
Indigenous leaders and community members told me that TBPS investigations of Indigenous deaths and other interactions with police devalued Indigenous lives, reflected differential treatment and were based on racist attitudes and stereotypical preconceptions about Indigenous people. On November 3, 2016, I initiated this systemic review to investigate and respond to these concerns. That the questions raised by Indigenous people in 1993 remained as valid as they did some 25 years ago, was deeply troubling, and demanded an urgent and comprehensive response.

The report identifies 44 specific recommendations in the following areas:

  • TBPS Sudden Death and Other Investigations (5)
  • TBPS Investigators and the Criminal Investigations Branch (9)
  • Other TBPS Operational Areas (6)
  • Missing Persons Cases (3)
  • The Relationship between the Police and the Coroner’s Office (3)
  • The Relationship between the Police and Pathologist (5)
  • Racism in TBPS Policing – General (4)
  • Racism in TBPS Policing – Training (4)
  • TBPS Policing – Recruitment and Job Promotion (3)
  • Implementation of Recommendations (2)


February 15, 2022

Fed. Govt., ON, Thunder Bay Police Services

Broken Trust: Concerns about process

Feb. 15, 2022: CBC – A lawyer representing three of the nine First Nations families involved in the Broken Trust reinvestigations has serious concerns about the process just as it begins to wrap up, with Ontario’s chief coroner saying a final report is expected “within weeks.” While the reinvestigations were supposed to put families first, said Aboriginal Legal Services program director Jonathan Rudin, their clients have instead been “ignored” and largely left out of the process.

Now that the nine reinvestigations have been completed, a final report has been prepared and will soon be presented to the embattled Thunder Bay police oversight board, Huyer told CBC News, speaking on behalf of the executive governance committee charged with overseeing the process.

That report will provide a summary of the work done and will respond to the recommendations made in the Broken Trust report, Huyer told CBC News.

But Rudin said he hasn’t heard about a timeline for that report, nor does he know what exactly will be included in it. “If people are serious about transparency, if they’re serious about trying to repair trust — or create trust frankly — between the Indigenous community and the Thunder Bay Police Service, that’s done by actually letting people know what’s going on,” Rudin told CBC News.

The family lawyer said he sent an 18-page letter to the executive governance committee overseeing the reinvestigations in January 2022, raising a range of issues about the multi-year process, including:

  • Concerns about how the investigations were done, including a reliance on lie detector tests.
  • Why families were not interviewed at the beginning of the process to determine what they wanted to see come from the reinvestigation of their loved ones’ deaths.
  • Not sharing final investigation reports prior to a meeting between the families and the teams that conducted the reinvestigations.
  • Not providing translators for family members whose first language is not English.
  • The inclusion of Thunder Bay Police Services officer Chris Carson as the investigative team’s family liaison, despite the fact he was one of two Nishnawbe Aski Police Services officers involved in the 2010 death of Romeo Wesley in the Cat Lake First Nations nursing station.

Rudin also said there are outstanding questions about Thunder Bay police Chief Sylvie Hauth’s role in the drafting and review of the final report, given her decision-making role on the executive governance committee.

March 7, 2022

Thunder Bay Police Services

Discovery of an additional 14 deaths of Indigenous people for reinvestigation

March, 7, 2022: APTN News– A deep review of sudden deaths in Thunder Bay dating back more than two decades has uncovered 14 deaths of Indigenous people that need to be reinvestigated, according to confidential report obtained by APTN. The deaths were flagged by a team of investigators tasked with poring over hundreds of sudden deaths since 2000, as part of the report Broken Trust, written by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director in 2018.

That report looked into the deaths of nine Indigenous people and found a litany of errors by Thunder Bay police sparking new investigations into each of those, which are all ongoing. But the Broken Trust report also called on a special group of investigators to look for more deaths not handled properly by Thunder Bay police. The results of that work were submitted to the Thunder Bay police services board last week and recommendations found in the report were provided to what’s known as the “Executive Governance Committee” made up of the grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Thunder Bay police chief, Ontario chief coroner, chief forensic pathologist and others.

They are calling on all 14 cases to be reinvestigated by police. The ages of the deceased were between two months old and 61 years old. Most of the deaths reviewed by “blended investigation team” (BIT) focused mainly on the years 2010-2017.

“It appears that in Thunder Bay there are a higher number of sudden deaths and/or homicides where the decedents are Indigenous, as well as a large volume of Indigenous decedents where the manner of death is accidental or undetermined,” BIT found.

Of the 14 cases, investigators found:

  • missing documentation
  • incomplete police investigations that lacked consistency, as well as accuracy in the manner of death classifications.
  • Background checks on deceased people were lacking
  • there were no major case management on the more complex investigations and 
  • it “appears a concerning number of sudden death investigations that remain open, manner of deaths unresolved, lack of medical documentation and cause of death.”

The investigative team also found issues with the coroner’s office, including cases in which coroners did not attend scenes and didn’t order postmortem examinations to determine the cause of death. “Appears that coroners and investigators are making premature comments on no foul play and releasing scenes before a post-mortem exam is complete in some suspicious death investigations,” the investigators found.

In some cases, the coroner didn’t appear to forward post mortem reports that were done, including toxicology, to Thunder Bay police.

“It is advised that the cases identified in this report are secured and preserved by (Thunder Bay police) pending further direction by the EGC or the OIPRD on further investigation,” BIT recommended in the report. BIT members also confirmed in the report that there are 25 unsolved cases of MMIWG with Thunder Bay police. “Some of these MMIWG cases predate 2000 and have remained open and unresolved for over 20 years.

November 1, 2018

ON, Thunder Bay Police Services

Ontario Civil Police Commission

The Thunder Bay Police Services Investigation Final Report

The OCPC investigation was conducted in response to concerns raised by First Nations leaders from Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Grand Council Treaty 3 and the Rainy River First Nation regarding the Thunder Bay Police Services Board’s oversight of police services following a series of deaths and race-based violence against Indigenous peoples in Thunder Bay. The OCPC is an arms-length agency of the Ontario government. Senator Murray Sinclair was appointed by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) in July 2017 to investigate the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.

The Investigation was mandated to examine:

  1. “The Thunder Bay Police Services Board (TBPSB)’s performance in carrying out its responsibilities pursuant to section 31(1) of the Police Services Act (“PSA”) to ensure the provision of ‘adequate and effective’ police services in Thunder Bay;
  2. The TBPSB’s role in determining ‘objectives and priorities with respect to police services’ in Thunder Bay, pursuant to section 31(1)(b) of the PSA;
  3. The TBPSB’s role in establishing policies for the effective management of the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS), pursuant to section 31(1)(c) of the PSA; and
  4. The TBPSB’s role in ensuring that police services provided in Thunder Bay are provided in accordance with the Declaration of Principles set out in section 1 of the PSA” (Ontario Civilian Police Commission).

The Key Issue

The Board has failed to recognize and address the clear and indisputable pattern of violence and systemic racism against Indigenous people in Thunder Bay. Moreover, the Board’s failure to act on these issues in the face of overwhelming documentary and media exposure is indicative of willful blindness.

The results of this failure are clear:

  1. the absence of plans and policies to address the crisis in violent crime;
  2. an oversight body disengaged from its basic functions of planning, policy development and community engagement; and
  3. a major municipal institution lacking many of the basic instruments of good governance and oversight.

The Thunder Bay Police Services Investigation Final Report identified 45 recommendations in the following areas:

  • Board Governance Policy (10)
  • Board Planning (2)
  • Recruitment, Retention and Promotion (2)
  • Oversight of the Chief and Deputy Chief (2)
  • Communication and Transparency (3)
  • Relationships with Indigenous Groups (4)
  • Board and Police Training (4)
  • Support to Police Boards from the Ministry Of Community Safety & Correctional Services MCSCS (6)
  • Appointment of an Administrator (9
  • training for new appointees (3)


June 23, 2022

Thunder Bay Police Services

Ontario Civilian Police Commission alleges misconduct by Thunder Bay police chief

APTN – The Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) says it will hold a hearing into “certain alleged conduct” of Thunder Bay police chief Sylvie Hauth. “The OCPC has determined that a hearing into the allegations is warranted. Accordingly, a Notice of Hearing has been served on Chief Hauth setting out three counts of alleged misconduct,” said a release from the police watchdog.

According to the OCPC, Hauth is facing three counts under the Police Services Act for how she dealt with a criminal investigation of the chair of the Thunder Bay Police Board. The OCPC allege that Hauth:

  • failed to immediately transfer the investigation to an outside force
  • attempted to deceive the board about when she knew of the investigation and
  • later amended that date.

The allegations have not been tested yet.

Hauth has been under fire for her seemingly lackadaisical approach to solving critical issues within the Thunder Bay police service including death investigations.

The force itself is under investigation for how it handled several death investigations involving Indigenous people. Several investigations have been reopened and some officers are under investigation themselves for how they handled cases.

On Feb. 11, the OCPC announced that it had concerns about the Thunder Bay police’s “management of discipline in the police service, the conduct of criminal investigations by its officers, and the ability of senior leadership to administer the day-to-day operations of the police service in good faith and in compliance with the Police Services Act.”

The OCPC said its concerns were based on the results of a preliminary review conducted by the province’s solicitor general and the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.

APTN News reached out to Hauth but didn’t hear back. Hauth announced Thursday on social media that she is retiring in 2023.

June 29, 2022:

February 25, 2022

OPP announce criminal investigation into actions of Thunder Bay Police Service

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) announced that they are conducting a criminal investigation into the actions of members of the Thunder Bay Police Service.  The announcement made on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, is subsequent to the request made by the Ministry of Attorney General regarding an investigation into current human rights complaints against the Thunder Bay Police Service…The statement did not identify the subjects of the probe and clarified that the OPP investigation is not connected to one being conducted by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.

“The Anishinabek Nation commends the efforts of the Ontario Provincial Police services in their criminal investigation processes into the Thunder Bay Police Service. The consistency of corruptive behaviour and racism displayed from this police service is resulting in continual Human Rights complaints and has been a detrimental factor in unnecessary deaths and mistreatment of members of our Nations,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe. “We hope the outcomes of this investigation assist in the acceleration of the recommendations with the Broken Trust: Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service Report.”

A separate inquiry called by the Solicitor General is being conducted by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission into the police service’s leadership, including Chief Sylvie Hauth and Deputy Chief Ryan Hughes, who has been suspended since January 28, 2022, highlights the dire state of internal and external affairs of this police service.

January 17, 2023

Thunder Bay Police Services

Thunder Bay police chief resigns ahead of discreditable conduct hearing

Sylvie Hauth, a 30-year veteran with the service, was the first female police chief in Thunder Bay, appointed in 2018.

The Globe and Mail: The Thunder Bay Police Services Board has accepted the resignation of suspended police chief Sylvie Hauth, just weeks before she was to face a hearing on charges of discreditable conduct and deceit.

In a press release Tuesday afternoon, the board thanked Ms. Hauth for her 30 years of service and wished her well in her retirement.

She first announced her retirement last June, the same day the discreditable conduct and deceit charges under the Police Services Act were announced by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission. She was suspended by the board – which has been under the authority of administrator Malcolm Mercer, appointed by the commission last spring – days later.

Ms. Hauth, a 30-year veteran with the service, was the first female police chief in Thunder Bay, appointed in 2018 after filling in for then-suspended police chief J.P. Levesque. He was acquitted on criminal charges the previous year before quietly retiring amid an unresolved policing crisis with Indigenous people in the city. The board says Ms. Hauth joined the service in 1993 with a master’s in criminology and rose through the ranks working in criminal investigations, uniform patrol and community services.

Her appointment to the top job came with high hopes and expectations that she would lead the embattled force out of a crisis that’s been fuelled by decades of police mistreatment against Indigenous people – validated in reports by the province that confirmed systemic racism had infiltrated the institution. Those reports came with recommendations that some saw as the clear roadmap needed to bring about meaningful change.

The commission said last October that it had “largely substantiated” the allegations against Ms. Hauth related to an improper criminal investigation against board member Georjann Morriseau, who filed human rights complaints against the chief and board in 2021 after learning she had been investigated for misconduct. Several active and former officers also filed human rights complaints against Ms. Hauth and the board for harassment and discrimination.

The board and Ontario’s Solicitor-General requested an OCPC investigation and its preliminary findings substantiated some of the allegations including how Ms. Hauth had attempted to deceive the board about her actions through misinformation.

Ms. Hauth’s Police Services Act hearing was scheduled for Feb. 6. Her retirement takes effect Jan. 27, meaning the charges are effectively dropped.

The board said in its announcement that acting Chief Dan Taddeo will continue in his role until a new chief is appointed.

Board secretary John Hannam said applications for the new police chief closed before Christmas and if all goes well members expect the new leader in place by the end of June, which was Ms. Hauth’s original retirement date. The Globe has learned the previous board wasn’t going to renew her five-year contract.

The hiring committee consists of all three members of the board – Mayor Ken Boshcoff, Councillor Shelby Ch’ng, and Ms. Morriseau – and three additional community members who are Indigenous – Cora Lee Mcquire-Cyrette, David Paul Achneepineskum and Denise Baxter – as per a recommendation from an expert panel hired last spring to advise the board.

The panel delivered an interim report last fall which included the recommendations for the search for a new chief, including that the position go to an Indigenous person or someone from another racialized group. The expert panel is led by former Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee and is made up of other policing and governance experts.

March 21, 2023

Thunder Bay Police Services

Thunder Bay Police Service appoints new chief as it grapples with major challenges

Darcy Fleury, coming from the RCMP in Edmonton, will start as Thunder Bay chief designate on April 17

A police officer poses for a photo.
Darcy Fleury is coming from the RCMP in Edmonton to take over as police chief with the embattled the Thunder Bay Police Service in northwestern Ontario. (Submitted by Darcy Fleury )

CBC News: The Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) has named an RCMP commander from Edmonton who will take over an embattled northwestern Ontario force that’s been dealing with several controversies over the past year.   

Darcy Fleury will start serving as chief designate on April 17, with a change-of-command ceremony scheduled for May 15, the Thunder Bay Police Services Board announced Tuesday morning in a news release.

The city’s previous full-time chief, Sylvie Hauth, retired in January while under suspension. Her retirement came shortly before she was scheduled to face a Police Services Act hearing over allegations of professional misconduct.

Fleury will step in for Dan Taddeo, the acting chief since last summer. 

Fleury is currently the RCMP district commander — chief superintendent for the Central Alberta District based in Edmonton. The Thunder Bay police board said he’ll bring extensive experience in investigative, operational, and administrative policing to the role. His career has also included postings in the Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Alberta.

The board said Fleury is Métis and his father was a founding member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

I am aware of some internal situations there with the organization, that there were a number of complaints, and internal investigations are ongoing.- Darcy Fleury, Thunder Bay’s incoming police chief

In an interview with CBC News on Tuesday, Fleury said he’s been following the TBPS and the challenge it’s been facing for years. One of his priorities will be to rebuild trust. “I am aware of some internal situations there with the organization, that there were a number of complaints, and internal investigations are ongoing,” Fleury said. “I look forward to being fully briefed on how that’s going.

“I do know that there has been some concern with the public as far as the reputation of the police service and how they operate. So I think one of the big pieces there is to rebuild that trust. “We have to work really hard with the communities, and be part of the community and get out there.”

Part of that plan will involve holding public town hall meetings, Fleury said.

Fleury also said building a healthy relationship with the city’s Indigenous community will be a focus, and he plans to meet with Indigenous community members and organizations regularly. “Some of the First Nations communities around Thunder Bay would, I think, welcome the opportunity to sit down and have conversations as to where we are as a police agency, and how we can better serve the people that actually end up living in in Thunder Bay.” 

Service faces serious difficulties 

Hauth’s term was marked with difficulties, including the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of human rights complaints, serious morale issues among officers, as well as several damning reports that found evidence of systemic racism within the force and detailed serious deficiencies in investigations into the deaths of Indigenous people in Thunder Bay over the last 20 years.

There are also outstanding calls by Indigenous leaders to disband the entire service and recommendations to reinvestigate the deaths of 14 Indigenous people alongside a broader review of the police service’s case file management system.

Anna Betty Achneepineskum, deputy grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), welcomed Fleury’s hiring and said NAN was consulted during the hiring process.  “When I learned of the selection of Darcy Fleury, with his years of experience, serving with the RCMP, we have that hope that he will serve the city of Thunder Bay and citizens in a good way,” she said. 

Achneepineskum and other Indigenous leaders previously called for the force to be disbanded and for the service be stripped of its ability to investigate major crimes. She said she still stands by that call, until the TBPS and its oversight board have made significant reforms and implemented past recommendations made by various civilian oversight agencies.  

Achneepineskum has led calls to hold Thunder Bay police accountable in the past, and said she will continue to do that going forward.  “We’re still going to be monitoring,” she said. “There’s still a lot of gaps, a dark cloud hanging over our head right now. It’s going to fall on the lap of the new chief of police.” 

A woman stands for a portrait and looks in to the camera.
Nishnabe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum says she welcomes the new hiring, but she will continue to monitor policing in the city. (Logan Turner/CBC)

The police services board itself remains under the oversight of administrator Malcolm Mercer, who holds the sole vote on the board. His term was recently extended until March 2024. In a statement, Mercer said he’s confident Fleury would “meet the key challenges of building and rebuilding relationships in the Thunder Bay community and region.” 

A graphic explains the history of turmoil within the Thunder Bay Police Service.
(CBC News Graphics)

As for law enforcement in Thunder Bay, Fleury said guns, gangs and the illicit drug trade are his major concerns. “When I’m there, I would like to see what they have planned right now. I do have a bit of a background on managing some projects, so seeing what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and see if we can push it along.”

Fleury said internal strife at the police service is also a concern, but he believes his management style, which he described as “very open,” will help.

“I always focus on trying to create a learning environment where everybody takes responsibility for their roles, and we develop them into those roles so they understand completely how to actually be effective leaders,” Fleury said. “It is a concern that I still hold and something that I have to look very closely at once I’m in the position.”

Police board member Denise Baxter, who was involved in the hiring process, said the board will be working with Fleury when he arrives in the city. “I think most people are keeping a close eye what’s been unfolding in Thunder Bay over the past five to 10 years,” Baxter said. “He really does understand the mandate that has been presented to the person that holds this important role.”

“Part of the work that we’ll be doing with him as the board is to go through the all the data that we have, all the the reports that we have, and make some decisions about where are those first places where we need to start.”

Baxter also supported Fleury’s plan to hold town halls in Thunder Bay. “I think as a leader you need to be present in the community,” she said. “Having those opportunities for him to engage in a real meaningful way, and listening to the people that reside in our city, will be really important.”

Author: Kris Ketonen 


Other Background Content By Theme

Commitments to Indigenous-Police Relations

Read more

Revitalizing Indigenous Laws

Read more

Thunder Bay Inquest Updates

Read more

Bill S-3 An Act to Amend the Indian Act

Read more

Healing Lodges in Canada

Read more

Indigenous Addiction and the Justice System

Read more

Viens Commission

Read more

Misleading information

Read more

Ontario Human Rights Commission

Read more