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Thunder Bay Police Service headquarters on March 11.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

Two Indigenous leaders are demanding that the Thunder Bay Police Service be dismantled and are calling on the Ontario government to ensure that effective police services are delivered in its absence.

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe says it is now “painfully clear” that Indigenous peoples have no trust in the police force and the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.

He pointed to what he called the “repeated failures” of the force, saying it should no longer be permitted to carry out major crime investigations.

Earlier this month, Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones told the legislature she sent a letter to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission asking it to “thoroughly investigate” the Thunder Bay police and its board.

In a December 2018 review, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director found that systemic racism exists at an institutional level at the Thunder Bay Police Service, which affected the investigations into the deaths of Indigenous people.

The watchdog said the “inadequacy” of the police force’s sudden death investigations was “so problematic” that at least nine cases needed to be re-investigated.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum says two of the nine reopened cases involved her family members and she alleged the force’s re-investigations were flawed.

The Thunder Bay Police Service did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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