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Some days, Thunder Bay police board member Georjann Morriseau must feel as if she is living through an episode of the Netflix drama Ozark – a hair-raising TV series set in a place where the truth is stranger than fiction.

Ms. Morriseau, a former chief of Fort William First Nation, says she has been harassed by some members of the Thunder Bay Police Service after a seemingly innocuous conversation with an officer in a HomeSense store, in which the officer allegedly revealed details of an undercover operation to her. After Ms. Morriseau raised concerns with the force, Police Chief Sylvia Hauth asked the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate her; the OPP found no criminal wrongdoing.

In October, Ms. Morriseau filed a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against the service, the board and Ms. Hauth. She alleges racial discrimination and harassment while serving on the board – a position she still holds – and said that the board is “on the brink of collapse.”

Hers is one of nine human-rights complaints that the Thunder Bay police currently faces. Stunningly, seven of those were filed by Thunder Bay police officers against their own service, says Ms. Morriseau’s lawyer, Chantelle Bryson. Last week, Ontario’s Solicitor General asked the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) to investigate Thunder Bay’s police leadership. Ms. Hauth says she welcomes the probe.

And yet, Thunder Bay Police board chair Kristen Oliver has insisted that the board is united and functioning – with the exception, she said, of Ms. Morriseau.

This has once again focused the spotlight on Thunder Bay – and rightly so. In 2016, an inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations youth in Thunder Bay produced 145 recommendations for the government and the police; Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) followed up with an additional 44 recommendations and demanded a re-examination of nine deaths of Indigenous people that the OIPRD deemed poorly investigated. The OCPC also separately asked former senator Murray Sinclair to investigate Thunder Bay’s police board in 2017, and he found that the board’s perpetuation of systemic discrimination constituted an emergency, prompting the appointment of a provincial supervisor and the creation of an entirely new board.

In his 2018 report, Mr. Sinclair highlighted a problem that has yet to be addressed – and is at the core of the issues Ms. Morriseau faces. “The issues identified with Thunder Bay policing through this investigation are not the result of behaviours by individual racists, which could be addressed through disciplinary, staffing and training measures. Nor do they arise from the absence of planning and policy development by the board, which would simply require that policy gaps be filled,” he wrote at the time. “They are indicative of a broader, deeper and more systemic level of discrimination in which an unacceptable status quo is viewed as the normal state of affairs, maintained and perpetuated by the structure and operations of organizations and agencies mandated to oversee them.”

In that way, Thunder Bay exemplifies many of the same issues we’ve seen across the country. Indigenous peoples fill the jails across Canada, but we are not represented on the other side of the courtroom. There are few First Nations judges, clerks, police officers – not to mention police board members.

Don’t appoint one First Nations person to a board or position of leadership and expect serious change. Do not tokenize. Change the culture. Read the reports after the inquests and investigations. And do better.

What is happening to Ms. Morriseau is similar to what happened to Jody Wilson-Raybould, another First Nations woman who was urged by various sectors of the establishment to try and bring change from the inside of a colonial institution. Now, like Ms. Wilson-Raybould, Ms. Morriseau finds her reputation in near tatters and herself under the microscope – though she, too, refuses to back down.

“Everything they have criticized me for and investigate me for is to do a job on their behalf,” Ms. Morriseau says.

But there are rays of hope. Ms. Morriseau has found a strong ally in the Thunder Bay Police Association, which supports an investigation into some of the issues she raised. How refreshing is this? The officers want to see their force improve, and are committing to do so.

“Yes, get an administrator in here, but not like before,” she says. “I am pushing for true accountability. We did the change of board and getting rid of leadership before. We did that. There has to be a plan that comes with it – a plan of action and a means to hold that plan accountable. It has to be sustainable.”

Mr. Sinclair has produced a report with a road map for change. It must be followed.

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