Police act like idiots during training session on missing, murdered Indigenous women

cops-simpsons-1‘What do we do when we’re sending women in to do training on race relations and they feel violated?’

By Jody Porter, CBC News, September 13, 2016

Police officers in Thunder Bay, Ont., are being accused of verbally assaulting a facilitator who was delivering cross-cultural training on Indigenous issues, but a city official says it was all a misunderstanding.

“It just got really bad,” said the facilitator, whom CBC News has agreed not to name because she fears that speaking out could have implications for her employment.

Thunder Bay trains local volunteers who are paid an honorarium to conduct training sessions for all city staff, including first responders such as police.

Police officers were “disruptive and dismissive” throughout the session, she said. They made a joke out of a question about what it would be like to have a child taken away to residential school. One officer twirled her hair while others spun around in their chairs during a discussion on genocide, the facilitator said.

The incident allegedly happened in July during a training session using the Walk a Mile film series, a project that aims to bring local Indigenous history and concerns to a mainstream audience.

After the film about missing and murdered Indigenous women “the behaviour was really ridiculous,” she said.

Officers accused her of lying about the statistics and asked her to for proof of differential police treatment of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, she said. That’s when she shut down the session.

“I had this assault happen to me and I still haven’t been invited to the table to receive an apology or to be told how it was resolved,” she said.

The filmmaker behind Walk a Mile is now concerned about how the national public inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women will deal with allegations of racism among police.

“What do we do when we’re sending in women to do training on race relations and they feel violated? What do we do when it’s the police who are making statements that have great impact on our safety?” said Michelle Derosier.

Thunder Bay police did not respond to questions from CBC News about their cross-cultural training in general or this session specifically.

But discussions with the senior police training officers in the session have taken place, according to city clerk John Hannam, whose office promotes the Walk a Mile project.

Trainer ‘misinterpreted’ police response

The facilitator “misinterpreted” the police response, he said. For example, police were laughing at a “sidebar conversation” during the session, “not really about the film at all.”

Furthermore, Hannam said the timing of the session was bad for police.

“It happened during a week when there was an attack on police in the United States and six or seven officers were murdered and so there may have been some heightened sensitivity over that,” he said.

Eight police officers were killed in attacks in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La., in July.

It’s estimated that at least 1,200 Indigenous women have disappeared or been killed in Canada since 1980.

Derosier said she is heartbroken and disturbed that police would violate the spirit of the films that share a “sacred story” of a First Nations woman whose murder in Thunder Bay remains unsolved.

“This is part of a bigger narrative that is happening in this country around police and the police state and the relationship to Indigenous women,” she said. “How do we reach true reconciliation when these things are allowed to happen and there’s not community response and action?”

Derosier is calling for a public review of the city’s use of Walk a Mile, including a public review of the training conducted with police.


Posted on September 13, 2016, in Indigenous Women, State Security Forces and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. No excuse but then always they always make excuses for each other….until it happens to them….

  2. They were laughing at a “sidebar” conversation? What is this middle school? Grow the f*** up and show some respect. And they wonder why people don’t have trust in the police, call me crazy but I don’t trust CHILDREN like that to have the authority they do. Don’t even know how to not be disruptive during a presentation, give me a break.

  3. Similar action by the police forces down south are what sparked the shootings, you can’t keep treating people like shit and expect them not to snap.

  4. Maybe the facilitator was a lousy instructor

  5. Amazing immaturity! How pathetic of them to gang up on her. Shame on Mr HAnnam for defending them. Professionals don’t take out their frustrations on others.

  6. Nobody is going to respect a population which does not first respects itself. Period.

  7. When Police view this sort of training as politically correct bullshit being shoved down their throats, of course they won’t take it seriously.

    • Ya because learning better ways to investigate murders and disappearances is such “politically correct bullshit.” Doesn’t sound like they took the execution of multiple cops in the US very seriously either… but that’s probably just “politically correct BS” too eh?

  8. The police are the root to this problem, they aren’t there to help. That is what we need to education to society. Stop the charade in its track.

  9. A crew of trainers is needed in areas where racism is rampant. There should be an staffing officer onsite to ensure they take training seriously. Goes to show that some people aren’t trainable aren’t compassionate. No wonder we have #MMIW crisis since contact. These systemic racist systems will never care to change.

    Any excuse is an excuse.

    Using the cops being murdered in the states. How does that equate to the murdered and missing women. They were not murdered by cops – were they?

    It’s not a joke it’s not acceptable.

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