Catherine Fife MPP, Waterloo

Government of Ontario

NDP demand justice for First Nations amidst tragic pattern of systemic failures

Published on January 5, 2024

THUNDER BAY - Ontario NDP MPP Lise Vaugeois (Thunder Bay—Superior North), Solicitor General Critic John Vanthof (Timiskaming—Cochrane), and Critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong) released a joint statement in response to the tragic death of Jenna Ostberg, a 21-year-old First Nations woman, following revelations that several domestic disturbance calls went unanswered until the situation escalated fatally: 

"This heartbreaking incident is part of a disturbing pattern of violence against women, girls and gender-diverse Ontarians," said Vaugeois. "For over a year, we've been urging the Conservative government to take decisive action, including declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic to draw attention to the seriousness of the situation. Unfortunately, their refusal to act leaves us with more tragic stories. Every domestic violence call should receive immediate attention. When the system fails, lives are lost." 

"We extend our deepest condolences to Jenna Ostberg's family," said Mamakwa. "Losing a young First Nations woman with a bright future is an immeasurable loss. We are witnessing a pattern of neglect within a system designed to perpetuate the struggles of First Nations. Unfortunately, it has reached a point where communities can't rely on the police's word, and families are forced to open separate investigations for justice. This is the Ontario Ford is comfortable with—institutional racism perpetuating a never-ending cycle. It's time for our elected leaders to change the status quo in a province built on colonialism." 

"I remember an Ontario where you could accidentally call the police, and they would be at your doorstep within minutes to confirm the call was, in fact, accidental," said Vanthof. "Unfortunately, under Ford's watch, this seems like decades ago, and reports are showing Ontarians calling for help are being left for dead. We need answers as to how this happened because a life could possibly have been saved. We owe it to the community, the victims, and their families to make sure that our police forces are equipped with specialized training to respond to and prevent such heartbreaking incidents in the future."