Nibinamik First Nation chief expresses 'outrage' over video of officer hitting teen
Chief Johnny Yellowhead released a written response on Saturday
The Chief of Nibinamik First Nation is expressing his "outrage at the violence" shown in a video that surfaced on social media on Saturday, December 1 portraying a female Uniformed Patrol Officer of the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) striking a teenage girl, from the remote First Nation community, while she was strapped to a stretcher.
Police said they were called to a residence on Egan Street on Saturday evening to assist paramedics with an injured woman when they found a 17-year-old female, at the residence, who was reportedly intoxicated.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) said earlier this week that the 17-year-old girl on the stretcher is from Nibinamik First Nation, a remote community about 500 kilometres from Thunder Bay, and is attending school at the Matawa Learning Centre.
A 21-second video shows a female officer yelling, "That's enough," before hitting the First Nations teen in the face. Afterward, the officer then yelled, "Do not spit on me, you do not spit on me," while appearing to forcefully push down on the girl.
Indigenous leaders across northwestern Ontario have been demanding answers about what happened since the video of the incident surfaced online on Saturday night. NAN grand chief Alvin Fiddler, called for an independent investigation into the matter with its results made public.
On Wednesday, Nibinamik First Nation Chief Johnny Yellowhead released a written response to Saturday's video saying that "it is entirely inexcusable," and the community of Nibinamik First Nation "echo the calls for an independent inquiry and investigation."
"There is no possible justification for such an action of assault against a youth by a person in a position of power and authority."
He stated that police are "meant to protect people from violence" however from what he saw in the video, he believes that some officers "are the very ones perpetrating it."
"If we cannot trust them to act with basic human dignity and without disproportionate violence towards a young woman receiving medical attention, how can we trust them to investigate and transparently report on this matter?" Yellowhead stated in Thursday's written release.
He said he will be writing to the Thunder Bay Police Department and the Government of Ontario "about the atrocity and the need for it to be addressed in a full and transparent manner."
"If the police will not take the necessary steps to protect our young women and keep our children safe ... then Nibinamik First Nation will be looking to the Governments of Ontario and Canada to work with us."
He said the community has been in contact with the teenager's family to "ensure they receive the support and care they need in the wake of this injustice."