(THUNDER BAY, ON) – Falconers LLP made the following news releases regarding Thunder Bay and the situations that are unfolding, have unfolded, and are in the midst of unfolding.
Falconers LLP is the law firm that is spearheading the push for the OIPRD investigation into the death of Stacy DeBungee. The long-awaited results of the OIPRD’s completed investigation keep seeming to be delayed over and over.
Below is the unedited version of the Falconers LLP news releases.
“The Human Rights Commission said that there is no leadership at the top on this Indigenous stuff that’s going on and I just went ballistic. I could write a book on what we’ve tried to accomplish and what we are accomplishing. So, for Human Rights to say there’s a lack of leadership, THEY CAN KISS MY ASS.”
These were former Mayor Keith Hobbs’ comments in response to the Human Rights Commission’s statement that civic leadership in Thunder Bay had not done enough to take on anti-Indigenous racism.
“Traditional Canadian Dance”
The Inquest brought national attention to Thunder Bay and finally shone the light on the Thunder Police and others who were ignoring their duties. CANADALAND asked the question: “But, what did this change?”
Falconer himself is not sure. “I will say this about Thunder Bay, for all the different examples of tragedies and misconduct by police leading to deaths or serious injury.
When it’s exposed, there is a traditional dance in Canada, that starts with denial, the media pressure increases, the facts become irrefutable and somebody loses their job and somebody apologizes and the regular Canadian dance apology happens, it’s almost like musical chairs, somebody’s left standing and loses their job and that is expected as part of the Canadian protocol of we did wrong.
Thunder Bay is utterly immune to that level of shame. I have never seen anything like it. I can tell you there are countless examples of representation of the 7-Youth Inquest that have exposed absolute egregious examples of racism and terrible neglect of Indigenous People.
It emboldens them. It actually emboldens the bad actors. There are virtually no consequences.
The Chief of Police decided it was time to retire *chuckles* with all of his benefits after all of the egregious examples, on his timing. He was not in any way censured. There are no consequences for these people, there is no sense of shame.”
It Takes a Village to Raise a Racist Police Service: Julian Falconer Presents at the Ontario Trial Lawyers Conference in Toronto
The Indigenous population in Thunder Bay Ontario has long been over-criminalized and under-protected. Local media outlets have consistently painted a skewed picture of the realities in Thunder Bay and continue to foster and shelter a racist police service.
Julian presented on the journey of holding a police service accountable in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
From the circumstances which lead to the Seven Youth Inquest in 2015, to the Thunder Bay Police Service’s (TBPS) failure to investigate the death of Stacy DeBungee, to the subsequent Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) investigations into the failings of the TBPS and the TBPS Board respectively, the legacy of systemic racism in Thunder Bay policing is as lengthy as it is concerning.
As these events unfolded, Chief of TBPS, Sylvie Hauth, continually refused to acknowledge the reality of systemic racism in Thunder Bay and instead has reassured the public that there is no crisis in Thunder Bay and it is “business as usual” for the TBPS. Even more recently, in a Chronicle Journal newspaper article, Hauth has cited “legal issues like the Stacy DeBungee investigation and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission’s Review” as causes for the TBPS Board being over budget. The fact that Chief Hauth considers these to be “budget” issues is only further evidence of the TBPS’ denial of the systemic issues that plague the service.
Recently, retired Justice Lee Ferrier ordered that a hearing to determine whether TBPS officers will face disciplinary proceedings was to proceed behind closed doors and be kept secret from the public. CBC, supported by the family of Stacy DeBungee and Rainy River First Nations, successfully sought an injunction to have the hearing stayed until Mr. Ferrier’s decision is judicially reviewed this December.
The injunction application was heard and granted by Justice Pierce. In sharp contrast to Chief Hauth, Justice Pierce understands the significance of addressing the concerns of racist policing in Thunder Bay and further, the significance of having those concerns addressed in a public way.
In Justice Pierce’s detailed ruling, she states, “Because of the complaint underlying this process – that policing practices related to Indigenous citizens in Thunder Bay are racist it is even more critical that every step in the complaint procedure be dealt with transparently.”
Further, at paragraph 49 she states: “Failing to proceed openly will only sow distrust in the complaints procedure. It will do nothing to address the community’s question about whether Thunder Bay’s approach to policing indigenous matters is racist.”
The efforts to have the Thunder Bay Police Service held accountable, and held accountable in the open, continue.
Superior Court Justice Helen Pierce issued an order halting plans for an in camera hearing on whether the charges against Thunder Bay police officers arising of the death of Stacy DeBungee should go forward.
In a 68 paragraph, 12 paged detailed ruling, Justice Pierce acknowledged a compelling public interest arising out of the allegedly racist conduct of Thunder Bay police officers investigating the death of Stacy DeBungee.