First Nations leaders call for RCMP to take over Thunder Bay teen death cases

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Indigenous leaders from northwestern Ontario are asking the RCMP to take over investigations into the recent deaths of two teens in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Three chiefs travelled to the provincial legislature to express a lack of confidence in both the Ontario Provincial Police and the Thunder Bay Police Force.

They say they do not accept findings that recent teen deaths in the city were non-criminal and are calling for an investigation from a force with a less fraught relationship with the local Indigenous community.

Currently the Office of the Independent Police Review Director is investigating the Thunder Bay force amid allegations of systemic problems with the way it handles deaths and disappearances of Indigenous people.

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The chiefs are asking the RCMP to probe the recent deaths of 17-year-old Tammy Keeash and 14-year-old Josiah Begg, who both died earlier this month, as well as the 2015 death of Stacy DeBungee that triggered the OIPRD’s review.

The chiefs also criticized the Thunder Bay Police Services Board for not providing proper oversight of the force or hearing concerns of the Indigenous community.