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NAN calls for the disbandment of Thunder Bay police force

By Tim Davidson Apr 22, 2024 | 1:50 PM

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is calling for the disbandment of the Thunder Bay Police Service.

A press conference was held on Monday morning involving the families of Corey Belesky, Jenna Ostberg and MacKenzie Moonias.

All three were found dead in the past year and a half.

Grand Chief of NAN Alvin Fiddler says another police service has to take up investigations into their deaths.

“These three families have filed complaints with the Inspector General of Policing of Ontario because of complete and utter failure of the Thunder Bay Police Service to conduct investigations into the deaths of Indigenous peoples,” Fiddler told the news conference in Toronto.

Fiddler says they don’t have any confidence in the investigations.

“We are here to support them and their call for the disbandment of the Thunder Bay Police Service and the appointment of a new police service to investigate these losses.”

Lawyer for the families Julian Falconer points out that a separate investigation called Project Cedar is being carried out into the death of 13 Indigenous people in Thunder Bay.

Police chief admits more can and will be done

Meantime, Darcy Fleury is empathizing with the pain and frustration expressed by family and leaders in the community.

The chief says some details cannot be shared about the investigations.

However, Fleury admits more can and will be done to stay in touch with the families about progress in their investigations.

The chief says they are cooperating with OPP reinvestigations at a level not before in an effort to restore confidence in the force.

In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, Fleury shared some details on the status of the investigations.

• The investigation into the death of Corey Belesky is active and ongoing. Of the 15 homicide investigations initiated in 2022, 14 are completed and now before the court.

• Mackenzie Moonias was last seen on December 13, 2023. When Mackenzie was reported as missing to TBPS on December 15, 2023, an investigation was initiated. Family members and community Chiefs were informed throughout the search.

• As the Special Investigations Unit has noted, TBPS received multiple 911 calls in the hours before Jenna Ostberg’s death. The initial call was not related to violence involving her and the second call indicated she was no longer present.

• In March 2024, the Director of the Office of the Independent Police Review (OIRPD) issued an update regarding its recommendations outlined in the 2018 Broken Trust report. The update identified that 100% of the recommendations are either fully implemented or ongoing as intended. The Director notes, “The progress made goes beyond procedural changes; it represents a fundamental shift towards a unified effort by both the police service and the board to build community trust in Thunder Bay.”

• Current administration is cooperating with the OPP reinvestigations at a level not before seen. Information regarding the reinvestigations must be provided by the OPP.

• There has been a demonstrated commitment to ensure appropriate conduct within the service.

Fluery will meet with media on Tuesday to respond to questions on the investigations.