(FORT HOPE FIRST NATION, ON) – Over the weekend we broke the story about how the water treatment plant and a construction yard was broken into and damaged by a youth on Fort Hope First Nation. Today, we have obtained further details surrounding what happened and the tears that were shed in court when things unravelled.
This morning in a Thunder Bay Courthouse (A.K.A. “The In and Out Day Spa”) courtroom, 4 youths appeared for their swing at bail via telephone call from the Fort Hope detachments of the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service. The youths cannot be named due to the restrictions the Youth Criminal Justice Act provides.
Her Worship, Denette Ellard was presiding along with Crown Attorney Katrina Van Kessel and a duty counsel lawyer.
All 4 youths were charged with multiple counts of break and enter, mischief causing damage and one youth was charged with breaching bail conditions.
In the late hours of October 4th, 2019, according to the police report, 5 youths made their way to the Fort Hope power plant construction site. They had entered through one of the doors that was left unlocked so that security could make their way in and out of the location. Upon entering the warehouse, the youths vandalized the structure, damaged the forklift and smashed it’s window. A red quad was in the warehouse and had all four tires slashed and more done to it. A number of brand new residential windows and other construction materials were either damaged or destroyed as well. Many of these items were meant to repair homes or build new ones.
After the youths were done with that location, they attempted to break into the actual power plant with a crowbar. They failed to pry the door open. At this point the group went back to the storage warehouse and left the site.
In the early hours of Sunday October 6th, 2019, the same group of youths attended the Fort Hope school portables and gained entry using a stick. They did not break anything in the first portable they broke into but did steal a number of snacks. The second portable that was broken into had the door pried open with a crowbar. Once inside, large bottles of paint were spread across floors, walls, teaching equipment and a computer. The youths then blasted multiple fire extinguishers inside the classroom which left the room even more of a mess. A third portable was then entered with the aid of a crowbar and more fire extinguishers were then blasted off in that one.
The group of youths were spotted by REAL Concerned community members of Fort Hope, this cause the youths to bolt and head down to the water front. At this point, the youths then decided to break into the Fort Hope water treatment plant. The group used the crowbar to pry open a door at the north east side of the building. Once inside, the group smashed multiple surveillance screens and cut the wires on recording devices and computer monitors. Yet again, multiple fire extinguishers were blasted off, this time in the water treatment plant.
One of the youths appeared in bail court over the weekend on Sunday and was released. 3 out of the 4 youths that appeared in bail court this morning were released back into the community except for one of the youths who has concerning and ongoing criminal activity which sparked the Crown to oppose their release.
The youths that were released, were released back into their families home. They were ordered not to possess any break-in instruments, curfews of 9pm to 7am, not to attend the water treatment or go within 50 meters of the construction warehouse which is located at the airport unless they are flying in or out of the community.
The one youth that was not released, was presently on bail for break and enter charges. The Crown found it concerning that they were engaging in this behaviour yet again. The youth broke down crying asking if they could just go home today. The father of the youth told the court that they had their home broken into last year and endured a violent home invasion which victimized his child. The Crown did not change their position and refused to consent to the release of this youth.
Duty counsel scheduled the youth for a bail hearing in a Thunder Bay Courthouse (A.K.A. “The In and Out Day Spa”) courtroom on Tuesday October 8th, 2019.
The other youths are scheduled to appear in court in Fort Hope on November 21st to begin answering to the charges.
Citizen journalist born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I like pizza and reporting on concerning events that are in my home region, or that impact it. You can read more by clicking here.