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Message from Chief Darcy Fleury

June 26th, 2024

June is National Indigenous History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis across Canada.

I am often asked about my relationship with the Indigenous community. There is no single community, and there is no one answer. A lot of people and groups are highly supportive and actively partner with TBPS to effect positive change and advance Truth and Reconciliation.

At the same time, I recognize the long-lasting and intergenerational impacts of colonial practices and programs and the very real barriers to trust between many Indigenous Peoples and the police. It has been acknowledged that systemic racism exists at Thunder Bay Police Service. Systemic racism refers to the ways that policies and processes of an institution resulted in systems (including justice, education, healthcare and others) that disadvantages non-white people and impacts the diverse community we serve. 

We’re taking action to correct this. An example is our officer recruitment process. Previously, applicants were scored on the way they came to a decision. Recognizing that cultural backgrounds can greatly influence a person’s thought process, this has been changed. The new scoring favours varied ways of thinking and promotes diversity. We have also changed our physical testing requirements, making it possible for people to practice and prepare even if they can’t access specific equipment. While many other steps have been taken, there is much more to be done to address systemic racism.   

To be clear, systemic racism is not the same as individual racism, which is person’s beliefs, attitudes, and actions that perpetuate racism. I maintain my promise that any and all reports of individual racism will be taken seriously, investigated and acted upon as appropriate. Based on my observations, TBPS Members are ethical, professional and compassionate in their service to all community members.

I am aware that some believe police officers are racist. That perception can prevent people – particularly those from marginalized communities – from calling police for help, or even reporting crime after the fact. Another implication is officer safety. Recently, there was a serious threat made to a TBPS officer. The threat was connected to unfounded criticism of our service. It is deeply concerning that anyone would take this action. 

This is a safety issue and I implore all people in our community to put their trust in TBPS to serve and protect with integrity.

I am committed to the safety and protection of all – community members and police officers alike. I will listen to concerns and seek solutions. We will continue on the good path we are on. 

I encourage you to share this message with your colleagues and teams.