The city of Thunder Bay’s progress in responding to the investigation recommendations continued more slowly in year five due to COVID-19, according to the report.
THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay released its fifth annual report in response to the 2016 investigation into the deaths of seven youth who traveled to the city from their home First Nations to attend school.
The jury of the coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Jethro Anderson, Reggie Bushie, Robyn Harper, Kyle Morrisseau, Paul Panacheese, Curran Strang and Jordan Wabasse made 145 recommendations in 2016 to several organizations, including 31 addressed to the City.
The City reported progress in 2020, while saying the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented other actions from moving forward.
The city saw its report card last year in an annual “newsletter” from Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto, which represents the families of six of the seven youths, tracking progress on the recommendations of the inquiry.
First awarded a C + in 2017, the city’s rating rose to A in 2019, but fell to B last year.
The City previously reported that 25 short-term recommendations had all been implemented in one form or another, with 20 implemented as recommended, four already in place and one recommendation implemented.
Out of six medium and long-term recommendations, the city reports that three have now been implemented, compared to one last year.
These include a hate crime public awareness and education campaign targeting Indigenous peoples in Thunder Bay, which is expected to launch by the end of June, and enhanced awareness training on Aboriginal culture currently underway for municipal staff, although the process is expected to take years.
Two other mid-term recommendations have plans or materials completed for implementation, and one – the development of a year-round safe sobering-up site for young people – has been identified as further action requiring further action. , and work has been suspended due to COVID-19. , says the city.
The city has set up an internal team to guide the implementation of the survey’s recommendations, comprising high-level staff like the city clerk and directors of several departments.
âThe recommendations were a catalyst for systemic change within the city, leading to updated approaches, including the Indigenous Relations and Inclusion Strategy,â reads a report from the Head of Government. Relations and Inclusion with Indigenous People, Regina Mandamin, to be presented to City Council for approval on Monday.
The City’s Indigenous Relations and Inclusion section will also undertake a more in-depth analysis of each recommendation “to assess the extent to which each is adopted in the day-to-day operations of the City, and whether the original intent of each recommendation is being adequately met.” , the city announced.
This analysis should be shared with city council in November.
Highlighting recent efforts to respond to the survey’s recommendations, the City said it will launch a major element of implementation around recommendation 112 in the coming days.
This will include a public education campaign on hate crimes targeting Indigenous people in Thunder Bay, identified as a major concern for First Nations students arriving in the city.
Campaign materials will include posters, postcards, radio, print and social media ads, the city said.
Regarding recommendation 114, highlighting the need for safe drunkenness sites, the City reported that progress on a fourth local safe drunken site was uncertain.
A planning committee to develop the site is developing an application for funding from the North West LHIN for a safe space for youth 25 and under who are intoxicated, “who walk, talk, and cooperate, and who don’t. ‘don’t need emergency services’.
A lead agency for the project has not yet been identified, with the city saying the urgent response to a COVID-19 outbreak among the city’s homeless and precarious population over the winter had suspended planning meetings.
In response to recommendation 139, the city implemented an enhanced one-day Aboriginal cultural awareness training for municipal staff. The program was developed jointly with Lakehead University and launched in the fall, but is expected to last up to three years.
As of May, 10 sessions were held, attended by approximately 166 managers and non-unionized employees. Training is expected to resume over the summer and fall as COVID-19 restrictions ease, the city said.
In response to recommendation 116, a public education campaign focused on the challenges Aboriginal youth face when coming to Thunder Bay for high school is being developed, including a short film by animation. Plans for a short film made in collaboration with Kingfisher Lake First Nation have been shattered by the pandemic.
The campaign launch will coincide with the return of students to Thunder Bay this fall 2021.
The city continues to offer the transit pass for First Nations high schools and travel training for students, he reported. An overnight shutdown program is also in place, allowing passengers to be dropped off anywhere along a route during the evening hours.
Additional security at City Hall was cited as another example of steps being taken to keep Indigenous youth safe – although community group Not One More Death recently reported concerns about security guards, the growing dangers. for vulnerable members of the community.
The 2021 budget includes an allocation of $ 75,000 for costs related to the investigation.