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Thunder Bay's systemic racism also provincial and federal governments fault

2017-06-06

OCIP press release Thunder Bay Discrimation May, 6 th 2017.docx

Thunder Bay’s “systemic racism” an example of underfunding towards off reserve organization by the provincial and federal government states OCIP Chief Brad Maggrah an advocate for all off reserve Indigenous peoples especially youth. Wabigoon, ON, June 6th, 2017. Brad Maggrah Chief of the Ontario Coalition of Indigenous Peoples (OCIP) whose organization represents and advocates on behalf of off Reserve Indigenous peoples stated, We in OCIP are very troubled by the recent deaths of Indigenous Peoples What is happening with the Thunder Bay police force? And the continued lack of funding for our off-reserve issues by the Ontario Government and the Federal Government. Since November the police service has been under investigation for allegations of “systemic racism” by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director over its handling of cases of dead Indigenous youths. Then last week the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, a provincial oversight body, announced it will appoint an investigator to look into the actions of the city’s police board. After the death of 41-year-old Stacey DeBungee, from Rainy River First Nation, who was found in a Thunder Bay river in 2015, as well as the deaths of five Indigenous students who were also found in city waterways between 2000 and 2011. In all those cases police concluded that the victims had accidentally drowned, I suggest the Thunder Bay police simply aren’t treating the deaths of Indigenous youth as seriously as they would if the victims were white states OCIP Chief Brad Maggrah. Unfortunately, those deaths were not the end of it. In May two more Indigenous teens – Tammy Keeash and Josiah Begg – went missing in Thunder Bay. They, too, were later found dead in nearby waterways. Now, First Nations chiefs representing almost all of Northern Ontario are demanding the RCMP be brought in to investigate the two most recent teen deaths and to re-open the DeBungee case. They are also asking the commission to appoint a new police board administrator. I know for a fact the Province and Federal government turn a blind eye to our organization OCIP and does not fund any of our activities, because of discriminatory policies against off reserve Indigenous peoples we represent. Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs says he doesn't believe there is a criminal element to the deaths near the river, nor does he accept that racism plays a role. * “The river bank is a dangerous place for any child, regardless of race, “Hobbs said, “and Indigenous teens who come to the city must be taught to avoid it.” * "We have to street-proof those youth coming down [to the city from remote First Nations] and I think we have to do a better job at it. Obviously, we haven't done a good enough job," he said. "We get reports all the time, police get reports that kids are hanging out down the rivers. There are parties underneath the bridges." * Mayor Hobbs is again blaming the victims and their families while spreading his racists stereotypes about Indigenous people drinking and the families are to blame. Shame on you Thunder Bay Mayor Hobbs for your negative views, and shame on you both the Ontario government and especially the Federal Government and your hidden systemic discrimination polices states OCIP Chief Brad Maggrah. For more information call OCIP Chief Brad Maggrah 807 938-1321 ocapprez@gmail.com *quote from CBC

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