Orillia, ON - Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner, J.V.N. (Vince) HAWKES
is releasing the following statement regarding the role of the OPP during investigations
in other police jurisdictions:
"I want to take this opportunity to clarify the role and responsibilities of the
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) with regard to investigations outside of its jurisdiction
and to address inferences ma de at a news conference in Toronto on May 31, 2017.
The OPP conducts thorough and professional investigations for matters occurring
within OPP jurisdiction and death investigations on behalf of the Chief Coroner
for Ontario. The OPP is highly regarded across the country for providing investigative
services to assist municipal, federal and First Nation police services at the request
of that police service leader. If the OPP undertakes an investigation at the request
of another police leader or on behalf of a third-party agency such as the Office
of the Independent Police Review Directorate (OIPRD), the final report, is provided
to the requesting agency. It would be up to that agency or its leadership to determine
whether to make public the results of the report. If during the course of that investigation,
criminal charges were warranted, the OPP would lay criminal charges.
I can confirm the OPP in fact recently completed a review of the investigation relating
to the death of Stacy DeBUNGEE referred to OPP by the Chief of Thunder Bay Police
Service. The report has been provided to the Thunder Bay Police Service. I can also
confirm that the OPP took a leadership role in the Coroner's investigation and subsequent
inquest in the death of seven Indigenous persons in Thunder Bay. The report was
released in June of 2016 and included 145 recommendations. The OPP has not received
a request from the Thunder Bay PS to investigate the two most recent deaths in Thunder
As an organization, the OPP takes all information received and investigations involving
possible homicide and disappearances very seriously, regardless of gender, heritage
or ethnicity. The OPP does not conduct nor condone profiling that contravenes the
Ontario Human Rights Code or Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter of
Rights). The OPP does not use any law enforcement action that relies upon stereotypes
related to: race; ancestry; place of origin; colour; ethnic origin; citizenship;
creed; sex; sexual orientation; gender identity; gender expression, age, marital
status, family status, and/or disability.
In December 2015, I personally joined with Indigenous leaders, including Ontario
Regional Chief Isadore DAY, Deputy Grand Chief Denise STONEFISH and an elder, to
release a Report on Missing and Unsolved Murdered Indigenous People - women and
men - in OPP jurisdiction. The OPP diligently compiled and verified information
in order to provide consistency and ensure clarity when the subject of missing and
unsolved murdered indigenous people is discussed by stakeholders. The shared goal
of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) and Aborig inal Policing Bureau was
that the report generates discussion, potential leads and/or resolution for the
families and communities who have suffered loss.
The OPP actively participates in efforts to address violence against Indigenous
women, including investigating and increasing awareness in human trafficking, sexual
exploitation and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Our members participated
in a provincial Joint Working Group on Violence against Indigenous Women convened
to ensure a coordinated response to Ontario's Strategic Framework to End Violence
against Indigenous Women. The OPP continues to work with the RCMP and other partners
on missing person investigations.
Pro-actively, OPP members participate in and often lead a number of programs in
Indigenous communities and with community leaders and other partners to provide
information to guide and encourage at-risk persons to create and maintain respectful
relationships and to make positive and healthy lifestyle decisions. These programs
include Niigan Mosewak, Walking the Path, and Project Journey/Project Sunset - an
experiential youth development program in north-western Ontario. In fact, leaders
in communities throughout Ontario have asked the OPP to implement those programs
in their own community.
The OPP also offers ongoing Indigenous Awareness Training programs to recruits and
existing members to ensure we are sympathetic to community safety concerns and provide,
when possible, proactive options and timely responses to calls for service.
We cannot reverse the tragic outcomes for the families and loved ones of those murdered
or missing. But the OPP will continue to support community safety and well-being
wherever and whenever we can. We encourage victims to continue to come forward and
report crimes and our officers will continue to offer professional support and referrals
to resources within the communities we serve. Ontarians can be confident in the
OPP and our ability to conduct professional investigations and bring those responsible
I thank you for the opportunity to clarify our role and correct the record."