THUNDER BAY - The Thunder Bay Police Services Board has elected a new chair to lead the board into the new year and filled the long vacant provincial seat.
During a meeting on Tuesday, the Police Services Board elected Georjann Morriseau as its new chair, after former chair, Celina Reitberger, informed the board she did not want her name to stand as a nominee.
"For me it was a decision I arrived at a couple weeks ago where I decided I could be more effective working behind the scenes," Reitberger said. "Being up front is not something that makes me entirely comfortable."
Reitberger was first elected chair in December 2018 following the release of the report by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission detailing failures on the part of the board to be inclusive and accepting of the Indigenous community. The Police Services Board elects a new chair every year.
"It is not unusual for the chair to change from year to year because we need new blood," Reitberger said. "I am happy with the decision and now I will have more time to spend on some really important projects, which are getting board procedures in place and moving forward with a business plan and going back to consult with the Indigenous community."
Morriseau, who has formerly served as chief of Fort William First Nation, joined the board in January 2019. She said she is looking forward to continuing work on the board's priorities this year.
"I think to continue some of those priorities and bringing them now to the next phase of implementation and being able to work on some of these board policies, the governance structure with on the board and within the board, alignment, but also that overall relationship piece and trust building within the community of Thunder Bay and internally with all the officers and civilians who work with the service," she said.
Reitberger nominated Morriseau, while member Kristen Oliver nominated Thunder Bay mayor Bill Mauro. Morriseau was elected as the new chair after receiving votes from herself, Reitberger, and board administrator Thomas Lockwood.
"I have a great deal of admiration for Georjann and her leadership skills," Reitberger said. "I have every confidence that she will be able to steer the board in a good direction and I will be supporting her all the way."
No nominations were put forward for the role of vice-chair. Board secretary, Krista Power, advised the board that it is putting itself in a difficult position. It was decided to defer the issue to the January meeting.
Kyle Lansdell was also appointed as the provincial member of the board, a seat that as been long vacant.
Local lawyer John Cyr was appointed to the seat in March 2019, however, he was removed by the province after letters written by Cyr and published in local media came to light where he expresses support for comments made by Senator Lynn Beyak relating to Residential Schools.
Lansdell will be required to complete governance training and cultural sensitivity before being permitted to vote.
The entire board was stripped of its voting rights following Senator Murray Sinclair’s OCPC report. All members are required to complete the training before being permitted to vote.