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Gull Bay First Nation Complaints of Anti-Indigenous Racism by the OPP – Armstrong Detachment Go Unanswered By OPP Commissioner

October 28, 2022

NationTalk: Gull Bay First Nation is a community approximately 250 kilometers northeast of Thunder Bay ON, near the village of Armstrong. GBFN has filed three (3) formal complaints of anti-Indigenous racism, discrimination and harassment in OPP services with OPP Commissioner Carrique which have gone wholly unaddressed despite their severity and the passage of many months.

Mr. Jeremiah Skunk is a young Indigenous man who was visiting his girlfriend in Armstrong ON in the summer of 2019. They had a non-violent argument which was reported to the OPP – Armstrong Detachment by a bystander. Mr. Skunk had left the residence and was walking down the street when he was apprehended by OPP Sergeant Tammy Bradley, cuffed, detained, placed in the back of her cruiser, and driven approximately 40 kilometers down the desolate highway #527 which runs 235km from Armstrong through the bush to Thunder Bay. There, he was forced out of the cruiser, threatened to not return and left in scorching summer heat with no water or food. Mr. Skunk walked for approximately 10 hours, during which he was pursued by a bear, before being accidentally found by a First Nations Constable from Gull Bay First Nation after drinking out of dirty roadside ditches and then the Gull River to survive. He easily could have died.

Gull Bay First Nation pursued the family’s complaint to the OPP starting in 2019 but was ignored and then together with the Chiefs of Ontario filed complaint directly with OPP Commissioner Carrique on February 11, 2022. To date, they have not had a response with findings of any investigation or to their demand that Sergeant Bradley be removed from the OPP – Armstrong Detachment and from active service in any community, pending the outcome of the complaint investigation.

On September 14, 2022, Gull Bay First Nation re-iterated this complaint to Commissioner Carrique and added two further complaints against Sergeant Bradley, upon which they again demanded that she be removed from the OPP – Armstrong Detachment and active service in any community.

In January 2022, the GBFN Special Advisor to Chief and Council Beth Boon, who had been vocal in OPP meetings in advocating for accountability for the Mr. Skunk incident, was subjected to discrimination, harassment and reprisal by OPP – Thunder Bay Detachment at the direction of Sergeant Bradley from the OPP-Armstrong Detachment .

Specifically, she was targeted with false accusations of assault on a GBFN member and threatened charges, in violation of the jurisdiction of GBFN Constables who handle such matters within the community but who were directed by OPP – Thunder Bay Detachment to charge Ms. Boon without any investigation.

Once the matter was returned to GBFN Constables for investigation upon the advocacy of Chief King, they concluded that there were no grounds for the threatened charges. Though complaint investigations are routinely closed at this point, Ms. Boon was then informed that the OPP – Armstrong Detachment had directed the investigating GBFN Constable to keep the file open in perpetuity as “inconclusive” as though guilty until proven innocent and to harm her. Ms. Boon then experienced being repeatedly tailed by the OPP when travelling from Gull Bay First Nation to Thunder Bay for GBFN business.

On April 27, 2021, an elderly GBFN member, Art Furoy, was arrested by OPP – Armstrong Detachment officers, for allegedly providing cannabis to a young girl. The charges were soon dropped without any explanation.

Mr. Furoy has never used recreational drugs in his life. He lives in Armstrong and has been a good friend to the OPP, assisting them with his heavy equipment and local knowledge from time to time. He had been invited to OPP BBQs and fish fries and awarded a volunteer plaque to recognize his service. Mr. Furoy however accidentally became witness to a theft by Sergeant Bradley of expensive OPP equipment – a heated water line for one of the OPP residences. Upon Sergeant Bradley realizing that Mr. Furoy now knew the heated water line equipment had not been returned to the OPP, she threatened him with her hand on her gun, stating “you know that equipment loaded at my place, erase that from your mind, it will be a lot healthier for you if you know what I mean.”

Mr. Furoy was soon after arrested by officers in 3 cruisers racing up to him in front of the Armstrong store. They refused to tell him why he was being arrested, his car was searched without cause or a warrant and his personal property was taken, including his wallet and cell phone. The charges were soon withdrawn without explanation and his personal items then returned without an apology or explanation for the arrest and charges or the withdrawal of the charges. He now fears for his safety and what has been wrongly placed on OPP databases.

GBFN is assisting the victims in seeking redress through the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and other forums.

For further details or comments, please contact:

Chief Wilfred King
Gull Bay First Nation