(THUNDER BAY, ON) – We have been digging around the McKenzie area lately, before the shooting and more so afterwards, to get a better idea about what is going on in the area. We have spoken with numerous residents in the area and people of questionable criminal backgrounds with intimate knowledge of the area.
First, let’s touch base on the obvious, the prostitution. Simpson Street used to be the place to go if you wanted to get your dick sucked or have sex in exchange for money in general. Having women standing at almost every street corner on Simpson Street, waving and smiling at every vehicle that passed caused an uneasy feeling amongst the business community. Many families and general members of the public would avoid the strip if they could. Prostitutes would be on the street and “working” around the clock. This ultimately hindered businesses in the area as most customers were uneasy about being in the area, especially if they had children.
The greatest minds at city hall got together and decided that this situation needed to be stopped. After months, possibly years of consultations and debate, the city implemented cameras to deter the behaviour from happening on a main business street. Many believed that because the area was covered by cameras, that the open prostitution that was happening would come to a half, as nobody wanted to be on camera in this business. The plan had limited success.
What happened was that the prostitutes moved one block over, to McKenzie. They now crowd corners around a school, community centre, churchs, and people’s homes.
Drug addicted women who have completely lost control over their life will often resort to prostitution for a way to keep their drug habit going. It also works in the reverse, women who become prostitutes often turn to substance abuse to cope with the stress and abuse they take being a prostitute. Either way, drug dealers close to them profit immensely from their downward spiral. And spiral down, is exactly what happens.
In recent years, McKenzie Street, from one end to the other, has been lined up with a number of prostitutes and 99% of them are deep in the trenches of drug addiction. Most of these women started out their bad decisions by hanging out at a trap house, getting high and having fun. That escalates into worse decisions such as trying their hand at dealing the drugs they are using. ultimately they slipped into a debt that they couldn’t come out of on their own. With most of their family and friends being aware by that point of their addiction, and likely have already paid off numerous debts for them, they have limited choices on how to pay back their debt.
Many women turn to prostitution. The area of McKenzie Street is now lined with an astronomical amount of drug dealers set up in trap houses at every cross street. Often, girls will have a drug dealer that they owe money to, so as soon as they are done hammering off a client, they will return to them to pay them their cut and use a portion to continue abusing their drug of choice.
These women are so far down the trench of addiction that they don’t ever think about sobering up.
In recent years, numerous southern Ontario gangs have flooded the city and taken over every corner. They are here in massive numbers. Police will bust a trap house and arrest 7 gang members, courts will deny them bail and within a week there are 14 more sent up from down south to replace the fallen members and continue to grow the stranglehold they have on the city. Some people are out of town with what is happening in Thunder Bay and think that there are no trap houses or gang activity in their neighbourhood. These southern Ontario gangs literally have involvement in every area of town with at least drug trafficking operations. Human trafficking is happening in most parts of the city, and often occuring in bedrooms located in trap houses.
The explosion of fentanyl, “purple down” and crack cocaine onto the streets of Thunder Bay, with an extra focus on McKenzie has caused numerous addicts to get so high out of their minds, that they do not realize what they are doing. Below is a video of a man that was witnessed in broad daylight, buzzed out and lightly flailing.
This wild and crazy behaviour is not uncommon to the neighbourhood. Residents in the area have told us their eyewitness accounts of people taking shits in their backyards, having sex, fighting and getting high. Residents in the area are sick of it but, as housing prices in the area have plummeted due to the obvious issues impacting the area, many who live there cannot afford to leave.
With multiple gangs in Thunder Bay, all jockeying for control over the McKenzie strip, which is most profitable for them as the prostitutes bring in 5 digits worth of drug money in a day combined to each trap house, it was inevitable that eventually violence would erupt between them.
Lets get some background on Holly Emma Pappassay. She was once interviewed by the CBC in which she stated that she was a sister-in-law with the now deceased Barbara Kentner. Kentner was involved with the brutal boot stomp beating of a Crown witness just outside of the courthouse. Kentner died of liver disease many months after a man viciously threw a trailer hitch at her. What we have found out about Holly Pappassay is that her daughter, Tabatha Pappassay has been in and out of the criminal justice system and has told the courts that she was raised in an alcoholic setting. Below is a report on Tabitha Pappassay written by the Thunder Bay Courthouse – Inside Edition in early 2018:
A 24 year old Tabatha Papassay appeared handcuffed before Judge Burton in courtroom 102 today to plead guilty to several charges. She’s very petite and soft spoken with difficulty enunciating her words. She’s wearing a reddish zip up hoodie under a gray zip up hoodie. Her hair is cornrowed.
Papassay is represented by lawyer Karen Scullion. Crown Attorney is Trevor Jukes.
Admitted facts before the court are that in December 2016 she was convicted of break and enter and received probation. Between May 3/17 & August 24/17, she never reported to her probation officer. She was arrested, charged and released.
On December 21/17 she was invited into a home by a friend in the 800 block of Alberta St. She asked to use the washroom. After leaving washroom, she entered a room where a male was sleeping and stole his Samsung Galaxy phone. She then told her friend she had to leave. On December 29/17 she posted a picture of herself on Facebook with the stolen phone. She was arrested, charged and released.
On January 17,2018 Thunder Bay Police received a call about an intoxicated and unconscious female on the 4th floor of 122 Cumberland Street South. Police arrived and found her passed out with her pants down in the hallway. She was arrested, charged and held in custody until today. She has been in custody for 43 days. It’s enhanced to 65 days with the 1.5:1 ratio.
The court hears she is on welfare and has a 3 year old child that she does not look after. Child is in custody of her parents.
Gladue factors are that she is a member of Fort William First Nation and she grew up in an alcoholic home.
The court hears that her criminal record is starting to accumulate.
Judge Burton asks her if she has anything to say.
Papassay states “It’s been a rough go the past 43 days. I want to go to Beendigens (native women’s crisis shelter”
Judge Burton starts telling her that with her criminal record right now that jail sentences are inevitable with future convictions. Burton tells Papassay that she shouldn’t be ripping off her friends. Papassay replies “he’s not my friend”.
Judge Burton is quick to respond. “YOU SHOULDN’T BE RIPPING ANYONE OFF”.
Papassay is sentenced to time served (65 days enhanced) to charges she plead guilty to. She also receives 12 months probation and a 249$ restitution order for the stolen phone. She’s given an extension of time to pay the victim surcharge fine.
Her handcuffs are removed and she’s free to leave.
Below is a video taken outside of Victoriaville Mall. This video shows more of the ongoing behavioural issues that an out of control drug-addicted population perpetrates.
These are just some of the impacts that an out of control drug addiction problem has been levying on the city. The people in power that are failing to address this situation more sternly and aggressively. Get on that, politicians, all of you.
Anyways, what we have learned is that the “links to the drug trade” that the police suggested may have had a role in the attempted murder of a teenage male at the corner of Dease and McKenzie recently has roots in what many of the public already know about, southern Ontario gang members flooding Thunder Bay.
What we have heard is that Holly Pappassay’s home was being utilized by southern Ontario gang members to distribute their products out of. Multiple sources tell us that Holly was paid between a 0.1 and a 0.2 gram of crack a day for allowing the takeover of her home. In no time, gang members utilized the bedrooms and started selling pussy and head out of the place (human trafficking). Sources allege that family members, close to Holly, were also being pimped out as well as Holly resorting to engaging in the activity herself. If there was an abundance of women in the trap house, or business was slow, whichever woman was on shift would be relocated to a corner on McKenzie.
Gang members would take a portion of the women’s earnings for their “protection” and would often pay them in drugs instead of cash, thus prolonging the cycle of addiction and human trafficking.
Holly was battling her own demons as well. She had found herself in a sticky situation, owing some amount of money to the people who took over her home. She likely felt like she couldn’t kick them out and sure as hell didn’t want to lose the drugs she was provided with daily. Sources indicate she was offered her debt wiped if she just took care of this issue her houses new masters had. A dispute over turf was boiling and about to boil over.
Tensions between rival drug dealers grew more intense as time goes on. There is still a number of unsolved murders that have happened in Thunder Bay, such as the body of a man found dead on the highway out to Armstrong, the shooting death of Geoff Corbeil and a few more.
Not long ago, a white car pulled up in front of 139 Dease, a home located at the corner of Dease and McKenzie. A lone person got out of a passenger seat and ran into the home. Bullets shot off inside the home and a teenage male was struck three times. One in the shoulder, once in the foot and it is unknown where the third shot hit him. All three bullets entered the male and exited him through the otherside.
The shooter then exited the home and re-entered the waiting vehicle which then fled the scene at a high rate of speed. Residents in the area believe Holly has likely fled to southern Ontario.
This isn’t the first gang-related turf-war shooting that has happened in recent history. Not long ago, bullets ripped through a Brodie Street South home where a man was shot in the chest and died.
The day after the Dease street shooting, officers raided a home at the corner of Finlayson and McKenzie. It was believed that Holly Pappassay or others involved in the planned and organized shooting, may have been in the home. Officers left empty-handed.
During my time on the McKenzie strip, asking random people this and that, I saw something that popped out to me and made me really scratch my head. A woman was biking and flailing at the same time. It was a light flail but she was just givin her. She got off the bike at one point and started a more intense flail while walking the bike. When she got off the bike, she had dropped some small, looked like a flap of drugs. She was approximately 15 meters away when someone ran out of a home in front of where she dropped the white item and picked up the white item and gave it a close examination. The male then threw the white item back onto the road and walked back into the house, seemingly upset.
Drug addiction is at the root of all these problems. What meaningful steps is city council doing? Below is what Brian Hamilton, a city councillor said about the Dease incident:
I am beyond frustrated with this situation. Police have known about this house for months. Neighbours have been organizing and trying to work with police & bylaw to address the rampant issues at this address. There have been arrests. Apparently not enough.
This is similar to the Algoma St murder where drug deals/prostitution went unchecked for months before the occupant was finally murdered.
Not sure the answer here but if local police need help, we need to get them help. Not just money, but advocacy at the federal level. We also need to encourage cooperation between neighbours, police, agencies and the City.
Events like this are traumatizing, isolating and highlight the need for serious attention at the street level.
Please contact City Council, all of them. This isn’t a Ward issue. This is the front line and requires the attention of the entire community.
Hamilton also held a “town hall” in the community, right on McKenzie and Heron in which members of the community could come out and share their grievances. A number of people showed up and cycled through the recognizable complaints of drug trafficking, violence, gangs, public defecation and more.
Women are being forced into human trafficking to pay off their drug debts with out of town gang members. The city continues to slide further into trouble and the powers that be seem to be content ignoring the issues. Our police service is seriously underfunded for the amount of problems we deal with weekly.
An average week, Thunder Bay Police Service respond to well over 200 calls for service of a criminal nature. Subury, a city much larger than Thunder Bay, averages less than 100 weekly criminal calls for service.