The death of 17-year-old Braiden Jacob is being investigated as a homicide, the Thunder Bay Police Service announced in a written release Thursday afternoon.
Officers were dispatched to the southern portion of Chapples Park shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9 after a passerby saw what they believed might be a body, police said.
A post-mortem examination was conducted in Toronto on Thursday, Dec. 13, and the results confirmed the body discovered was that of Jacob, who had been reported missing by police on Dec. 6.
Jacob was from Webequie First Nation, and was in Thunder Bay to receive counselling services which were unavailable in his home community.
Jacob’s death is believed to be the eighth homicide of 2018 in Thunder Bay.
On Wednesay, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, a provincial civilian police watchdog agency, released the results of a two-year examination of the way police in Thunder Bay investigate the deaths and disappearances of Indigenous people.
Gerry McNeilly’s 200-page report was highly critical of the northwestern Ontario force, stating that systemic racism exists throughout the police service, and that the “inadequacy” of at least nine investigations into the deaths of Indigenous people over the past several years was “so problematic” that they should be reopened.
“The failure to conduct adequate investigations and the premature conclusions drawn in these cases is, at least in part, attributable to racist attitudes and racial stereotyping,” McNeilly wrote. “Officers repeatedly relied on generalized notions about how Indigenous people likely came to their deaths and acted, or refrained from acting, based on those biases.”
The report made 44 recommendations, including suggestions to improve the training and increase the capacity of investigators working on death and missing persons cases.
Thunder Bay Police Chief Sylvie Hauth told CBC Thursday that work is already underway to ensure officers are getting the proper training and that investigators are meeting the provincial major case management standards.