A First Nation’s chief says it is disturbing {that a} Thunder Bay, Ont., police officer allowed a marriage occasion to take pictures on the scene the place an Indigenous lady was discovered lifeless whereas he was tasked with guarding the scene.

Anna Betty Achneepineskum, deputy grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, was reacting to a social media put up that confirmed the officer alongside the bridal occasion on the metropolis’s waterfront Marina Park over the weekend.

Thunder Bay Police Service officers despatched to Marina Park, the place the girl’s physique was discovered on July 8, began holding the scene that morning. The scene was launched Monday.

“We wish issues to alter. We wish to construct a very good relationship with the Thunder Bay Police Service,” Achneepineskum stated. “However actions like that … it is simply not proper.”

Dave Guilbeault, who stated the girl who died was his daughter’s greatest pal, had gone to Marina Park over the weekend to point out help for the household. He stated he noticed a bridal occasion taking pictures in a police car on the scene. He posted pictures and the video to Fb on Saturday evening.

“That is the true Thunder Bay proper there,” a voice within the video could be heard saying.

Within the Fb put up, Guilbeault stated the officer confirmed a scarcity of respect and was laughing till he confronted the group, which led to the officer apologizing.

CBC Information has been unable to acquire the identify of the police officer concerned within the incident.

Police spokesperson Chris Adams stated the bride had a connection to a retired officer within the drive.

“This was an impromptu state of affairs the place the bride approached the officer and requested a photograph be taken within the cruiser,” Adams stated in a written assertion.

“There was no intent to trigger any indignity or disrespect to anybody based mostly on the place the officer was situated. Public interactions with our officers who’re parked or located in settings which have a excessive variety of pedestrians, equivalent to a park, are fairly widespread. “

A historical past of damaged belief

Achneepineskum, nevertheless, stated: “The conduct was not solely dangerous by way of the relations who have been concerned, but additionally by way of the general public’s views of the Thunder Bay police.”

Anna Betty Achneepineskum, deputy grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, says concerning the incident involving the officer with the bridal occasion: ‘Actions like that … it is simply not proper. (Logan Turner/CBC)

Thunder Bay police leaders have lengthy stated they’re dedicated to repairing a fractured relationship with the Indigenous group.

Exterior opinions of the drive and its oversight board launched in 2018 recognized systemic racism at an institutional stage inside the police service, together with a sample of poor and insufficient demise investigations involving Indigenous individuals. That led to reinvestigations of 9 deaths.

As nicely, 14 further circumstances involving the deaths of Indigenous individuals between 2006 and 2019 have been beneficial for police reinvestigation.

First Nations leaders have known as for the Thunder Bay drive to be disbanded and to lose the authority to research main circumstances.

Within the final a number of months, the service has confronted a management disaster, with each Chief Sylvie Hauth and Deputy Chief Ryan Hughes suspended. The Thunder Bay Police Companies Board, which gives oversight, is being helmed by an administrator appointed by the Ontario Civilian Police Fee. Following that appointment, three of the 5 sitting board members resigned.

Achneepineskum stated she has been in touch with the household of the girl who died final week, and is engaged on submitting a proper criticism. The video was posted just some hours after the relations have been notified of their beloved one’s demise, she stated.

The relations are upset and indignant, Achneepineskum added.

She stated the household is contemplating asking for a public apology or for the officer to take part in a sharing circle.

As of Monday, police stated the investigation into the girl’s demise is ongoing and an post-mortem had taken place in Toronto. Police haven’t publicly stated if foul play is suspected.

‘Nothing has modified’

Adams stated Thunder Bay’s performing police chief, Dan Taddeo, has reminded officers that, whereas public interactions are inspired, there could also be occasions once they can doubtlessly be seen as being insensitive.

“Officers have been reminded that the character of an assigned obligation shall take priority over different requests; particularly when the character of the request may battle with that of the assigned obligation,” Adams stated within the written assertion.

The incident occurred simply days earlier than an professional panel that was shaped to look at and supply suggestions to enhance policing points in Thunder Bay is scheduled to carry consultations with the general public.

Achneepineskum stated she is scheduled to fulfill with that panel on Friday.

“The behaviors and the conduct of a few of these officers continues and that is simply one other instance that once I go and converse to the professional panel to say ‘You understand what, nothing has modified, and what are you going to do about it,’ “she stated.

“That is the latest state of affairs that has taken place. They need to take it significantly.”