Podcaster Ryan McMahon determined to uncover truth behind multiple teen deaths in Thunder Bay


The tourism board in Thunder Bay, Ont. probably won’t like this week’s W5 episode.

Maybe they should, if it helps to undo a despicable and embarrassing reputation: Thunder Bay is Canada’s murder capital.

There are more murders per capita in the city than anywhere else in the nation.

Homicide rate per 100,000 population, by Census Metropolitan Areas (Data source: Statistics Canada)

What makes it worse is that many Thunder Bay murders have an undeniable stink of racism. Racism that targets Indigenous people. Racism that many believe is a barrier to solving a slew of missing persons cases that end up in undeterminable deaths.

This week’s W5 is a first-hand story told by Anishinaabe podcaster Ryan McMahon. Ryan loves Thunder Bay. It’s where he spent much of his youth, playing hockey and visiting friends and family.

But Ryan admits that he also fears Thunder Bay. It’s a city in which young Indigenous people have repeatedly turned up dead in local waterways. Ryan suspects that the murder rate in Thunder Bay is actually higher than reported because at least some of those bodies were murder victims.

Ryan McMahon’s investigation also sheds light on the history of racism in Thunder Bay, and examines the failings and the injustices of its social systems and institutions. (Crave)

Back in 2018, Ryan produced a podcast about it. He ended up uncovering more questions than answers. That’s why he produced a four-part docuseries on Crave to look more closely at what happened in several specific cases that are wrapped in and even fuelled by racism.

A Crave publicity person sent me a screener, so I could watch episode one. She was hoping that we might do a story on Ryan and his series. But when I saw episode one I thought, wow the best way to share Ryan’s story…is to share Ryan’s story.

So, this week, W5 viewers will see Ryan’s documentary on what happened to a young and talented hockey player named Jordan Wabasse. And he dissects the fascinating murder trial of a young white man named Brayden Bushby, who was accused of murdering an Indigenous woman Barbara Kentner in the most heinous way: by throwing a steel trailer hitch at her from a moving vehicle.

Watch ‘Thunder Bay’ on CTV, Saturday at 7 p.m. or watch the series on Crave

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