Politicians Debate Missing Aboriginal Youth

Help find Jordan

Help find JordanTHUNDER BAY – It finally appears, at least for now, the issue of Aboriginal youth coming to Thunder Bay, and ending up missing has hit the radar screen in Queen’s Park. Today NDP MPP Howard Hampton asked the McGuinty Liberals what action they have taken following the disappearance of seven high school students in Thunder Bay over the last 10 years. “These are seven young citizens of Ontario. These are seven teenagers. I suggest to the minister and to this government that if seven teenage high school students disappeared from London, there would be a different reaction. If seven teenage high school students disappeared from Hamilton, there would be a different reaction”, Hampton said. The Kenora MPP, during Question Period on Monday pushed for increased attention to the conditions of First Nations youth living outside of reserves. “Can the minister explain how seven teenage citizens of Ontario can disappear in a city like Thunder Bay and there’s no reaction from this government?” Hampton asked. “The Attorney General ought to know that the inquest that he refers to has been delayed, and delayed indefinitely, because this government doesn’t seem to be able to get its act together”.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, responded to Hampton stating, “We take any tragedy very seriously and take the death of young people who travelled to school very seriously. We’re working through every ministry in every way to make sure that people are safe. There are some very serious questions to be addressed. One of them is: Is the federal government providing the support for education in First Nations that it should? Is it providing the health care in First Nations that it should? Is it providing the infrastructure support in First Nations that it should? Those are just some of the questions.”

Chris Bentley continued, “It’s a tragedy for the families; it’s a tragedy for the communities; it’s a tragedy for all involved. And that’s why we are working on answers wherever we can find them.

“The specific issue that my friend raises, he knows is a part of an inquest. He knows that the inquest would expect that submissions be made to it rather than somewhere else. He knows that, and he shouldn’t speak about, with respect, why an inquest is proceeding or not in a place like this when he is providing only a small, incomeplete part of any answer. We’re going to look for the answers in every way we can to provide justice to the families who’ve lost their loved ones”.

Hampton raised the issue in Queen’s Park after a new report on the fate of seven Aboriginal youth who have gone missing in the city made it to the Toronto Star newspaper.

In March when Premier McGuinty was in Thunder Bay, where he spoke at The Da Vinci Centre, across the hall from the search headquarters for the Jordan Wabasse search, reportedly the Premier didn’t stop in to offer his support to the search crew.

Over the past ninety days, since Jordan Wabasse vanished, there have been numerous stories in the media across Thunder Bay, and on the APTN network. CBC Television’s Fifth Estate was in Thunder Bay a month ago gathering information on the story as well.

The Toronto Star report is the first time the issue has been raised outside of a Guelph Mercury report of a prayer vigil just after Jordan Wabasse went missing.

There has been no sign of the missing youth, despite a wide-spread ground search of volunteers supplementing the efforts of the Thunder Bay Police Service, and the Ontario Provincial Police. The volunteer searchers, mainly from First Nations across Northwestern Ontario, have located a hat that testing showed belonged to Wabasse, as well as a shoe similar to the type that Wabasse was wearing the night he disappeared.

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