Thunder Bay

Nishnawbe Aski Nation grand chief calls for investigation of RCMP

The grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation says a “comprehensive” investigation into systemic racism in the RCMP is needed.

Alvin Fiddler says systemic racism is “entrenched” in the organization

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler is calling for an investigation into systemic racism in the RCMP. (CBC)

The grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation says a "comprehensive" investigation into systemic racism in the RCMP is needed.

"We've known it for a long time that systemic racism is entrenched in many of the police institutions or right across the country, including the RCMP," Alvin Fiddler said. "What we've seen … since March with the shooting deaths of Indigenous people and the vicious arrests, including [Chief Allan Adam] ... it's systemic racism that allows these things to continue to happen."

Adam, who's chief of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation was arrested by RCMP in Fort McMurray in March; video shows Adam was tackled and punched by officers during the arrest, which happened after he was pulled over for an expired licence plate.

Adam, who was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer, accused the RCMP of using excessive force.

The RCMP has said Adam was resisting arrest, and the officers' actions were reasonable.

The entire incident was captured on video by a police dash cam.

RCMP officers were also involved in the death of Rodney Levi, of the Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation, who was shot and killed by RCMP in New Brunswick last week.

The shooting happened after RCMP officers responded to a report of an "unwanted man" in a home.

The RCMP has said responding officers were confronted by a man carrying knives, and used a stun gun several times, but were unable to subdue him.

"What we're asking for ... is for [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] and [Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair] to immediately announce this investigation already on the RCMP,"  Fiddler said. "It must be fully transparent, and it has to be a collaborative exercise."

"The findings of this investigation should be binding," he said. "So, for example, if at the end they conclude that the RCMP is too broken and it must be dissolved, it must be dismantled," then that's what happens, Fiddler said.

RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki on Friday said "I do know that systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included."

"Throughout our history and today, we have not always treated racialized, and Indigenous people fairly."