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.