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)


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.

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