Inquiry scheduled into deaths of seven Native youth in Ontario

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Ontario. Photo from NAN

An inquiry into the deaths of seven young Native people in Thunder Bay, Ontario, will begin on October 5.

Six males and one female, ranging in ages from 15 to 21, died in the city between 2000 and 2011. They had been sent from their respective First Nations to attend school in Thunder Bay.

"Every family that we work with on this inquest has clearly told us that their priority is to ensure prevention of death," Christa Big Canoe, the legal advocacy director at Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, told CBC News. "There is a legitimate fear in northern communities to send their children to Thunder Bay or to urban settings for school."

The young people who will be a subject of the inquiry are Jethro Anderson who was 15 when he died in 2000; Curran Strang, 18, in 2005; Paul Panacheese, 21, in 2006; Robyn Harper, 19, in 2007; Reggie Bushie, 15, in 2007; Kyle Morrisseau, 17, in 2009; and Jordan Wabasse,15, in 2011.

“The families have been waiting so long and with so many questions about the loss of their children that it is a relief that the Inquest will finally begin," Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said in a press release.

About 8.2 percent of the population in Thunder Bay is Native. The city has historically drawn a large number of Native students who are unable to go to school on their reserves due to a lack of educational opportunities.

Get the Story:
Families in First Nation student death inquest relieved to have start date (CBC 9/17)
First Nation student death inquest to start Oct. 5 (CBC 9/16)
Seven native youth left for high school and never returned: Finally, an inquest (The Toronto Star 9/16)

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