Police pull body from river in Thunder Bay, Ont., during search for missing teen

York Regional, Nishnawbe Aski police to investigate Indigenous teens' deaths in Thunder Bay

Dozens of First Nations people gathered on the edge of the McIntyre River in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Thursday night after a body was pulled from the water during the search for a missing 14-year-old boy.

Police could not confirm the identity of the body and would not reveal the gender.

The discovery was made during the search for Josiah Begg of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, who disappeared while visiting the city from his remote First Nation on May 6. 

"We spoke to Josiah's family to let them know we located a body in the water," Thunder Bay police Staff Sgt. Ryan Hughes told CBC News. "They're concerned because we can't confirm it's him, so it's hard for them and it's hard for us because we can't say it's him."

The body will be sent to Toronto for an autopsy, Hughes said.

Another First Nations teen was found dead in a different part of the river on May 7. Tamara Keeash was the sixth Indigenous teen whose body turned up in a river in the city since 2000.

Thursday night's discovery in the river — behind the Slovak Legion near Atlantic Avenue —  came after the Ontario Provincial Police brought their underwater recovery unit to the city at the request of Thunder Bay police.

First Nations volunteers were discouraged from searching the river earlier after city police said there was "no evidence" the boy had gone near the water.

At a news conference on Wednesday, First Nations leaders expressed concerns about the quality of the police investigation, while Begg's mother, Sunshine Winter, gave a tearful plea for her son's return.