“The System has Failed These Youth” – NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler

There is not a lot of room in Courtroom 501 at the Thunder Bay Court House. That means families will be unable to attend all of the sessions.
There is not a lot of room in Courtroom 501 at the Thunder Bay Court House. That means families will be unable to attend all of the sessions.


THUNDER BAY – A provincial inquest into the deaths of seven Anishinaabe youth is getting underway in Thunder Bay today. The inquest has taken three years for it to start, and is expected to examine the reasons, and come up with solutions to prevent the deaths of other students in Thunder Bay.

Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler expressed thoughts this morning, following a sunrise ceremony at the court house. The families, court workers, lawyers, and officials along with support workers were in attendance for prayers, drumming and final preparations for the inquest.

There is not a lot of room in Courtroom 501 at the Thunder Bay Court House. That means families will be unable to attend all of the sessions.
There is not a lot of room in Courtroom 501 at the Thunder Bay Court House. That means families will be unable to attend all of the sessions.
Ontario Child Advocate Irwin Elman sums up the situation in one word, "Ridiculous"
Ontario Child Advocate Irwin Elman sums up the situation in one word, “Ridiculous” – Photo by Irwin Elman

The Grand Chief expresses that the system has failed these youth and their families all through the process, and that failure is continuing with the inquest, expected to last six months, is being held in one of the smaller courtrooms in the new Thunder Bay courthouse.

Irwin Elman, Ontario’s Child and Youth Advocate states, “The Jury sits in the chairs against the wall. The seats for the family and public. At the Inquest into deaths of First Nation students in Thunder Bay. Ridiculous !

The ramifications of this decision are making the start of the inquest far less significant.

The Grand Chief stated in a media scrum outside the court that if the deaths were of anyone by Aboriginal youth, the system would have moved “heaven and earth” to ensure there was enough room.

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler explained that there are support workers and family members who want to be in the courtroom to hear the evidence.

Inquest livestream
The Provincial Inquest is being livestreamed

The Inquest is being Live-streamed at the Provincial Coroner’s website. However the livestream so far is very choppy, and skips and the sound quality is not very good.

For people in Northern Communities, often on slower Internet, watching the livestream is likely to be very frustrating.

Livestream of Inquest

WARNING: Some images may be graphic and disturbing to some viewers – discretion is advised.

The provincial inquest into the deaths of seven students gets underway in Thunder Bay
The provincial inquest into the deaths of seven students gets underway in Thunder Bay