Presiding Coroner and Coroner’s Counsel for joint inquest into deaths of seven First Nations youths announced

Jordan Wabasse NAN

Jordan WabasseTHUNDER BAY – Dr. Andrew McCallum, Chief Coroner for Ontario, today announced the appointment of the Presiding Coroner and Coroner’s Counsel for the joint inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations youths who died after leaving their remote home communities to pursue secondary education in Thunder Bay.

The presiding coroner will be Dr. David Eden, Regional Supervising Coroner for Operations. Coroner’s Counsel will be Ms. Karen Shea, Assistant Crown Attorney for Hamilton, and Mr. Trevor Jukes, Assistant Crown Attorney for Thunder Bay. The inquest is expected to begin in the spring of 2013. Further details will follow as they become available.

Background:

• Jethro Anderson of Kasabonika Lake First Nation, died on or about November 11, 2000 at age 15;
• Reggie Bushie of Poplar Hill First Nation, died on or about November 1, 2007 at age 15;
• Robyn Harper of Keewaywin First Nation, died on January 13, 2007 at age 19;
• Kyle Morrisseau of Keewaywin First Nation, died on or about November 10, 2009 at age 17;
• Paul Panacheese of Mishkeegogamang First Nation, died on November 11, 2006 at age 21;
• Curran Strang of Pikangikum First Nation, died on or about September 26, 2005 at age 18; and
• Jordan Wabasse of Webequie First Nation, died on or about May 10, 2011 at age 15.

The Office of the Chief Coroner called an inquest into the death of Reggie Bushie in January 2009. In consultation with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, the Chief Coroner has expanded the discretionary inquest to include all seven deaths, due to the similar circumstances which surrounded them.

An inquest jury may be able to make recommendations aimed at preventing further deaths among students from remote northern communities.

Details regarding the date and location of the inquest will be announced when the information becomes available.

As young people return from northern communities this fall to attend school in Thunder Bay, there is hope being offered. There are plans for a new residence, there are more services being offered and planned, and there are more community partners working together to make sure that the youth are safer in Thunder Bay.