How the Canadian Justice System Fails our Aboriginal Sisters and Brothers

Open Letter to Marc Depatie, communications coordinator, TPS and Mayor Steven Black, Timmins, Ontario.

Timmins Police officer slaps handcuffs on an aboriginal woman who just wanted to get some fresh air. Photo by Frank Giorno TheONEONLINE.CA

Marc, in reading your bombastic and threatening email to me, in which you falsely accused me of writing inflammatory statements about the takedown, handcuffing of a young aboriginal woman in Timmins on Sunday, April 15, 2018, just because she wanted to go for a walk and get some fresh, please read some of the research I have undertaken in support of my statements.

Marc Depatie, is the communications coordinator for Timmins Police Services. Yesterday in response to my video recording the completely unnecessary arrest and re-criminalization of a young aboriginal woman, wrote me a scathing email in which he accused me of writing untrue and inflammatory words.

I respectively disagree with Marc Depatie’s self-serving words and let him know that I am not in the least intimidated by his vile and malicious response. And I am speaking the truth in the biblical senses as John the Apostle said the Truth will Set You Free.

I suggested to Marc, that accepting the truth of the situation is needed if TPS ever hopes to heal and improve the rapidly deteriorating relations with Timmins’ Aboriginal community that has been ongoing, but reached a boiling when on one day in late February two people from Fort Albany in Mushkegowuk Territory died at the hands of Timmins Police –21 year-old Joey Knapaysweet and 62- year old Agnes Sutherland.

These deaths are much more serious than the abominable arrest of the young woman on April 15, 2018, but in posting my video recording I wanted to show that Timmins Aboriginal community suffers even when it comes to everyday things like going for a walk in Timmins. Now TPS says this young woman was supposed to be on house arrest and she was required to stay in doors 24/7. What idiot prosecutor and foolish judge would order such a thing? With technology such as it is other more humane options are available like an ankle monitor.

For example, celebrity Lindsay Lohan was sentenced to house arrest in 2011, but unlike the young woman in Timmins who had to stay indoors all day, Lohan was fitted with an ankle monitor and she had more freedom to go about and walk outdoors and enjoy the simple things in life.

Los Angeles (CNN) — Actress Lindsay Lohan was under house arrest early Friday, authorities said, after she turned herself in early to begin a sentence for jewelry theft conviction.

Lohan showed up three weeks early at a Los Angeles jail to begin serving her sentence, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Thursday.

It was determined that she would serve her time under house arrest because of overcrowding at the facility, authorities said.

She was fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor her movements and ensure she stays at home, except as allowed by the court, Whitmore said. But during those hours Lohan could go out and spend time outdoors with the ankle monitor providing tracking of her movements. (CNN May 27, 2011)

Regrettably this option was not provided to this young woman in Timmins.

“In the mid-2000s, the population of the Beaver County Jail in Hopewell Township peaked at more than 400 inmates on any given day.

That has since dropped to an average of about 250 county inmates in the facility. One of the things that helped to lower that number – and with it, the cost of county corrections – is a small rectangular black device about the size of an iPhone.

It’s an electronic monitoring device attached to a band and worn around a person’s ankle; it’s more commonly known, simply, as an ankle bracelet.- New York Times Feb. 25, 2011.

Below is the list of suggested readings, there are more, way more. I am going to add this list to my and also my blog

Please call me or respond to this email with TPS comment and I will be pleased to include it in my story. The offer goes to you to Mr. Black and Gilles Bisson, Charlie Angus et al.

Rest assured Marc, my statements if anything are understatements given the deplorable situation of how our legal and policing systems mistreats Aboriginal women and men. They history and literature on this deplorable behaviour by the elites has been well document and this behavior has evolved from the British Colonial administration (1672-1867) in the colonies of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, British Columbia and the Rupert’s Land Territories (1672-1870) to our current Canadian system which celebrated it’s 150th Birthday last year.

But Marc, you must realize that last year a great number of Aboriginal Men and Women across Canada were not celebrating because of a history of systemic discrimination and at times down right harm of Aboriginals in places across Canada and Canadian institutions including here in Timmins “The City with the Heart of Gold”.

I hope you don’t mind but I am sharing with you and others my reading list with you, that back my claim that there is something seriously wrong with Timmins Police Services and Aboriginal Community relations.

Did the Timmins Police Department miss or not hear the protests that included Walter Naveau,former Mattagami First Nations chief, were held on the steps of Timmins City Hall as an outcry of injustices in the aftermath of the single day killing of two Aboriginal people in Timmins, Joey Knapysweet, 21 and 62-year old Agnes Sutherland.

And there is still the issue of the six unsolved murdered and missing women in the Timmins area since 1989 and the still unsolved murder of Mario Wesley in 2014.

Mario Wesley was stabbed to death in a house on Windsor Ave on July 28, 2014 and Timmins Police still have no clue as to who murdered Mario Wesley. Photo by Frank Giorno

Below is the list of suggested readings, there are more, way more. I am going to add this list to my and also my blog

Please call me or respond to this article with TPS comment and I will be pleased to include it in my next story. The same invitation is extended to anyone who is copied in this email including Mayor Black, and Gilles Bisson and Charlie Angus.
The verdict in the Colten Boushie case has provoked outrage across the country and prompted reflection about how the justice system treats Indigenous people. After 15 hours of deliberation, the jury acquitted Gerald Stanley, a farmer, of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Boushie…
Ignorance is not an absence. Ignorance is a force. It justifies. It silences. It perpetuates.

When the Law Breaks Down: Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and Governmental Defiance of the Rule of Law
Abstract: Comments on Aboriginal peoples, governmental defiance, and the breakdown of law and the balance between law’s roles and limits.
Keywords: Civil disobedience–Law and legislation; Indigenous peoples–Civil rights; Canada
Justice system failing First Nations, report finds: Iacobucci urges action to get aboriginal representation on Ontario juries


Timmins police manhandle aboriginal woman for being outside enjoying the day

Timmins Police officer slaps handcuffs on an aboriginal woman who just wanted to get some fresh air. Photo by Frank Giorno TheONEONLINE.CA

Timmins Police manhandled a young aboriginal woman around 7 p.m. Sunday April 15, 2018 by the Timmins Fire Department Parking Lot on the corner of Second Ave. and Cedar St. S.

Apparently, the woman was under house arrest and a draconian judge and prosecutor asked that she be under house arrest and not be permitted to go outside. This is a draconian sentence and verges on cruel and unusual punishment. Possible violates her rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedom. I called the OPP to come and investigate the TPS Police manhandling of Marie from Moosonee. A Constable Johnson said he would go down to the TPS office and see how the woman was doing but he never reported back to me.

In this day and age with technology such as ankle monitors you kinda wonder what idiot prosecutor and foolish judge sentence a young person to house arrest where they can’t get fresh air. I mean even prisoners in solitary confinement are allowed to go outside and get exercise by walking and inhale the fresh air.

Unmoved by the young aboriginal woman’s plea to let her go unreasonable Timmins Police man slaps handcuffs on her and bundles her into the back seat of the car and arraignment at TPS headquarters. The sensible thing would have been to apply the spirit of the law and drive the woman home, instead these two insensitive officers unnecessarily re-criminalized this young person. Photo by Frank Giorno

TPS policy makes no sense at all. As 63 year old father of a 30 year old daughter and 28 year old son, I would have driven the young woman home instead of re-criminalizing for a very minor, minor and from her point of view completely understandable desire to walk outside.

Timmins Police has been having major issues dealing with indigenous people. Two months ago two aboriginal people died in Timmins on the same weekend on February 27 at the the hands of Timmins Police. Joey Knapaysweet 21, Fort Albany, was shot to death on the shore of Gillies Lake. After being shot his body was dragged on the snow according to witness from the nearby homes who saw the killing of Joey Knapysweet and that was reported on by the Timmins Daily Press.

That same weekend Agnes Sutherland,62, also of Fort Albany, died after she was manhandled by Timmins Police after she was removed from a shelter in Timmins…the rough handling of the frail Sutherland, who was placed in a holding cell where she died, likely was responsible for Agnes Sutherland’s death.

The Province’s Special Investigation Unit is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of these two unnecessary deaths by members of the Aboriginal community while interacting with TPS.

Mario Wesley was stabbed to death in a house on Windsor Ave on July 28, 2014 and Timmins Police still have no clue as to who murdered Mario Wesley. Photo by Frank Giorno

Mario Wesley, a gifted sculptor, from Moosonee was murdered in July 28, 2014 his murder still has not been solved by TPS. Therese L’Abbe was murdered in 1989 and the crime was never solved. There are about 6 aboriginal women whose murders were never solved by Timmins Police.

Timmins police handcuff and led young aboriginal woman into the back seat for a drive to TPS headquarters where she will charged for simply wanting to take a walk in the late afternoon air. Photo by Frank Giorno TheOneOnLine.Ca

There needs to be better training for police, especially for those that work in Northern Communities where future police officers grow up in a contaminated community filled with hatred and disdain for indigenous people…young men and women who are filled with these hateful , racist views should never be allowed to serve. A psychological screening test to identify bad apples and filter them out should be developed and applied.

NOTICE: Readers who have returned to this page since the original posting may notice that the original 7 minute video has been reduced to 1 minute and 35 seconds.

The reason for this is that several individuals including His Worship Steve Black, Mayor of Timmins and a person who is in the Aboriginal community asked that I remove names of people in the video including one of the very young policeman.

I have listen to Mayor Black and the other individual and removed the names, consequently the recording is now only 1 minute and 35 seconds.

The recording actually benefits from the editing as there was a lot of just standing around after the police cornered the young woman in the Fire Department parking lot and the more concise focus on the actual handcuffing and apprehension portion makes for a quicker understanding of the situation rather than wading through 6 minutes of waiting and inactivity.

Timmins Police Response to my blog: Since the posting of my video recording I have received a rather threatening email from Mr. Marc Depatie, the acting communications coordinator and the Timmins and Area CrimeStoppers coordinator.

Mr.Depatie, I am not intimidated by your malicious language.

He on behalf of the TPS board I guess has accused me of inflammatory writing.

I disagree with this assessment. I quote John the Apostle 8:7 I believe THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.

Please stop being in denial Mr. Depatie, accept the truth as it is only with the clear view of the truthful situation that the community can heal and move forward to reconciliation.

Denying the truth and finding against media will only prolong this very sad, unfortunate situation that TPS is solely responsible for by its unwise actions.

I do hope that Mr. Depatie and the TPS Police force have the courage to accept the truth of the rapidly deteriorating relations with our First Nations People. I note that in the aftermath of the the twin deaths on February 27, 2018 of Joey Knapysweet, 21 and Agnes Sutherland, 62 that members of the Mattagami First Nations and members of the public protested the apparent mishandling of the two situations. Former Chief Walter Naveau was one of the leaders. I also note that in media articles Alvin Fiddler the Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation said he was concerned about the two unexplained deaths of Knapysweet and Sutherland.

Should Mayor Black, Police Chief John Gauthier and Mr. Depatie wish to meet with me I will be pleased to interview them and write about their point of views and post them on either or or both.

Healing through acceptance of the Truth and Open Dialogue:
It is important to foster a community dialogue in an open and frank discussion and not one where the powers that be are more concerned about protecting Timmins for negative publicity.

It’s too late for that, the moment the officer pulled the trigger and the moment the officers allegedly mistreated Agnes Sutherland until she died in a holding cell, the story was out in the Timmins Daily Press,, The Toronto Star.

My story adds a slightly different perspective…it is not only the major events like two unexplained deaths that are harming Police-Aboriginal Relations. But it is also the banal, small, picayune, everyday minor encounters between the courts, the judicial system and Timmins Police that are problematic.

Let’s work together to heal this community.

The Murder of Mario Wesley in Timmins Still Unsolved

As 2014 draws to an end, the murder of Mario Wesley in Timmins remains unsolved. Last April, I wrote one of my “A Northern Blogs” about my friend Mario Wesley titled “Mario Wesley Sculptor and Musician Battles Personal Demons.” I never posted it on A Northern Blog and only recently discovered it in my draft unpublished blogs. Mario never had a chance to defeat his demons. He was murdered on July 28, 2014. The first murder of the year in Timmins.

Five months later the Timmins Police still have not charged anyone with Mario’s murder. I understand that the Timmins Police are taking Mario’s murder seriously and have followed strands of leads all the way to Attawapiskat, where a police investigator traveled to question potential witnesses. Sources close to the Wesley family tell me Timmins police have questioned over 200 people who Mario knew and associated with…but nothing has led to the laying of criminal charges so far.

mario-wesleyShortly after Mario’s funeral, Timmins police placed posters around town of Mario playing a guitar and asked anyone with leads into Mario’s death to get in contact with them or with CrimeStopper. Officers also visited the Lord’s Kitchen, a community kitchen in the basement of the old Church of the Nativity on Spruce St. North where Mario used to meet his friends for a meal once a week.

Here is the Timmins Daily Press story reporting on Mario’s murder

As we end a very sad and empty 2014 I certainly hope that police continue to work hard on solving Mario’s murder. Mario like all of us had his demons and I believe he would have conquered them. I know his daughters want the person or persons who murdered their father apprehended and brought to trial.

Mario Wesley Sculptor and Musician Battles Personal Demons

Here is the blog I wrote in April, 2014, that I posted on my Facebook page, but didn’t add to A Northern Blog until now.

“Artists and musicians are doomed to be cast in many instances as tormented souls who see and interpret the craziness of the world for the so-called sane majority. Mario Wesley my friend originally from Moosonee would fall into this definition. A man who is beset by hosts of personal demons, some inflicted by his early years of being abused in residential school, others being caused by his alcoholism which he battles successfully for a brief period…and when he does he produces such a beautiful song such as this one…”First Love”.

Mario is also a talented sculptor, working in soapstone. I purchased one of his sculptures and donated it to the Ojibway Cree Cultural Centre where it belongs for all to see and appreciate. Now Mario is afflicted with glaucoma and is legally blind. I wish he could beat his demons and continue writing songs and sculpting. Last Time I saw him he told me he had stopped drinking. I hope to set up an Artists Table at Timmins Urban Park this summer and am encouraging Mario to focus on his sculpting. He will sell many of his works, that I am sure, although with his glaucoma getting worse it will be increasingly more difficult for Mario to sculpt.

As for music, we will have our Friday afternoon open mic at Urban Park and I hope to encourage Mario to get up and sing his songs.

Gallery Owner in Thunder Bay Liked Mario’s Sculptures

Today, I got a comment on Mario Wesley’s First Love Video which is posted on my you tube site from a gallery owner named Louise in Thunder Bay, Ontario who was searching for Mario because she liked his sculptures. Maybe we can get Mario sculpting again and perhaps Louise in Thunder Bay can be sent a few to display in her gallery…I am sure Mario could use some of the proceeds of the sales.

Here is “First Love” By Mario Wesley recorded in September 2011 by Gillies Lake…unfortunately the ending is kind of bumpy as my editing skills failed me….I hope you enjoy this nonetheless.”