Joint Inquests into deaths of Aboriginal Students announced by Chief Coroner


Chief Coroner of OntarioTHUNDER BAY – The goal will be getting answers to why seven young people from Northern Ontario have died while attending high school in Thunder Bay. Dr. Andrew McCallum, Chief Coroner for Ontario, announced that a joint inquest will be held into the deaths of:

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

All seven students died after leaving their home communities to pursue secondary education in Thunder Bay.

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 is now expanding 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.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose today welcomed the decision by the Chief Coroner of Ontario to call a joint inquest into the deaths of seven NAN youth who have died under similar circumstances since 2000 while attending school in Thunder Bay.

“We are pleased that the Chief Coroner granted NAN’s request for a joint inquest and that we finally have a process that will examine all seven deaths and answer some of the questions the families of these youth and their communities have been asking for years,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose. “The loss of so many young lives has caused great fear and apprehension across NAN First Nations and it is time that the truth is uncovered as to the cause of these tragedies.”

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