Timmins mayor calls out 'racist' and anti-police comments following weekend deaths

The mayor of Timmins is calling for calm after two Cree people were killed over the weekend following altercations with city police.

The province's Special Investigations Unit is investigating both incidents

People gather at a vigil in Timmins for Joey Knapaysweet, 21, of Fort Albany First Nation, near the spot on Gillies Lake where he was shot by police on Feb. 3. (Facebook)

The mayor of Timmins is calling for calm after two Cree people were killed over the weekend following altercations with city police.

A 21-year-old man was shot dead by police near Gillies Lake, while a 62-year-old woman died after being detained in a jail cell.

Numerous sources, including Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus, have identified them as Joey Knapaysweet and Agnes Sutherland, both of Fort Albany First Nation.

Little is being said officially about the deaths as they are now under investigation by the province's Special Investigations Unit or SIU, which looks into any serious incidents involving police.

Timmins mayor Steve Black is calling for citizens to refrain from making comments about the two Indigenous people killed over the weekend and about the city's police force until the investigation is concluded. (

But Timmins Mayor Steve Black thinks too much is being said about these incidents in his city and called for calm at the start of Tuesday night's city council meeting.

​"I would encourage our community to please refrain from some of the comments that are being made towards the individual and the family that are not appropriate and racist in some regard in social media circles and definitely inappropriate for a time like this," Black said.

"And some of the comments towards our police, I believe. We should wait for the investigation to take its course and hear from the SIU."

Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon (Erik White/CBC)

The deaths have overshadowed the emergency summit being held in Timmins by the Mushkegowuk Council this week. 

The regional James Bay government declared a state of emergency in November, worried about a tide of drugs and alcohol coming into its seven member communities. 

Grand Chief Johnathan Solomon says there has been sense of optimism at the summit, that all the communities, the three levels of government, police and health partners will work together to find solutions.

"There's a lot of unison in regards to working together and people are, like I said, have optimism that we can do this. We can become a healthy nation, healthy communities with health families," Solomon said.

"I know that we won't be able to stop it but someway, somehow we've got to find a way to decrease the flow of illicit drugs into our communities."