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On Dec. 12, 2018, Ontario’s police watchdog released a report that documented the existence of systemic racism in the Thunder Bay Police Service.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director, a civilian oversight agency led by Gerry McNeilly, reviewed dozens of cases and came to the conclusion that the investigative work was tainted by racist attitudes toward Indigenous people. The report, which called for the reopening of nine sudden-death cases and made 44 recommendations, was titled, aptly, “Broken Trust.”

Though the conclusion was already known and felt by many, particularly those who had experienced the racism firsthand, its release was a fulcrum moment – not only for the city and province, but for Canada at large. It acknowledged that our colonial past, and the cruelties that accompany it, is alive and well in our institutions. Naming it, as the McNeilly report did bluntly, is essential. But acknowledgment is not the same thing as change.

So what comes next, for a city and for Canada, as we encounter the challenges of reconciliation?

In an effort to address that question, The Globe and Mail has opened a bureau in Thunder Bay to document that process with sustained coverage. This is the first of many articles.

Additional coverage

Long way home: For Indigenous youth, an epic road trip brings them back to their roots

House blaze kills mother, four children in First Nation community with no working fire truck

Sioux Lookout protest sparked by Indigenous teen’s arrest seeks to draw mistreatment of First Nations to the fore

Video of Indigenous teen’s arrest in Northern Ontario sparks outrage

How the fight over Thunder Bay’s century-old James Street bridge points way to spanning a racial divide

In Fort William First Nation, band uses election to press forward despite echoes of colonial past

Consultant says First Nation will pay him $1.28-million for obtaining federal housing dollars

Ottawa vows to fix lagoon spewing sewage into North Caribou Lake First Nation

North Caribou Lake First Nation asks Ottawa for help as sewage spill threatens water supply

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