05/21/2017 02:50 EDT | Updated 05/24/2017 08:55 EDT

Thunder Bay Police Watchdog To Review Disappearances Of 2 Indigenous Teens

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — A police watchdog will include the recent cases of two teens in its systemic review of how the Thunder Bay Police Service investigates the deaths and disappearances of indigenous people.

The body of 17-year-old Tammy Keeash from North Caribou Lake First Nation was discovered, drowned, in the Neebing McIntyre floodway on May 8. She was in care in a group home in Thunder Bay.

And 14-year-old Josiah Begg of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation disappeared two days earlier.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says a body discovered in the McIntyre River is believed to be that of Begg, but police have not yet confirmed that account and could not immediately be reached for comment.

tammy keeash josiah begg

Josiah Begg, 14, left, and Tammy Keeash, 17, right, disappeared on separate days in May 2017. (Photo: Handout/CP)

In an email, a representative for the Office of the Independent Police Review Director confirmed that the agency is asking the Thunder Bay police for Keeash's and Begg's case files as part of its review of the force's practices in policing indigenous people.

Alarming questions were raised, says director

When the review was launched last year, the agency's director said that alarming questions were raised about the way Thunder Bay police have investigated the disappearances and deaths of indigenous people in the community.

"Indigenous leaders and community members say that these investigations, and other interactions with police, devalue indigenous lives, reflect differential treatment and are based on racist attitudes and/or stereotypical preconceptions about the indigenous community,'' Gerry McNeilly said in a news release at the time.

"It is critical that these issues be independently examined through a systemic review, which would enable me to effectively address the issues and make meaningful recommendations for improvement.''

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