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Regional chief says police systemic racism exists across Ontario

RoseAnne Archibald feels Thunder Bay solutions can help the province
RoseAnne Archibald
RoseAnne Archibald, Ontario Regional Chief (Tbnewswatch file)

TORONTO — The Regional Chief for Ontario says Thunder Bay is not the only community where there are problems with how police deal with Indigenous people.

RoseAnne Archibald made the comment late Wednesday in a statement responding to the recent reports on Thunder Bay Police and on the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.

Archibald said an institutional climate of systemic racism, which she believes has become normalized in Thunder Bay was highlighted in the reports and "through consistent media attention."

She added, however, that "problems with systemic racism in policing agencies exist across Ontario."

Archibald described it as an ongoing safety issue that must be addressed in partnership with First Nation communities immediately.

She said she stands with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Grand Council Treaty # 3, Rainy River First Nation and others "in their commitment to holding the Thunder Bay Police Services board accountable for their treatment of First Nations people" in the city.

Archibald described the First Nations leaders as champions not only for their regions, but all across Ontario.

"The solutions found on the ground in those areas can have a positive impact across the province," she said.

However, she expressed her displeasure with how the appointment of Toronto-area lawyer Thomas Lockwood as temporary administrator of the Police Services Board was handled.

Archibald said Sinclair had said it was "essential" that the administrator be chosen in consultation with the Indigenous community.

"This recommendation unfortunately has been overlooked...We have to address this immediately," she said.

Lockwood was part of the team that worked under Sinclair in the investigation that led to his report.