The inquest into the death of Indigenous youth attending high school in Thunder Bay is headed into the next stages.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler looks forward to the next phase of the joint Inquest into the deaths of seven First Nation youth as the jury begins on recommendations to improve safety and education outcomes for NAN youth.
“We have fought since 2008 to uncover the truth behind the tragic losses of our youth and the emotional toll on their families, friends, educators and our communities has been immeasurable,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “This jury has heard heart-wrenching testimony about the circumstances surrounding these tragedies. We acknowledge the difficult work they are facing in their upcoming deliberations about the joint recommendations. We trust the recommendations will lead to improvements in the safety of our youth and education outcomes for all NAN students.”
The Seven Youth Inquest heard from 146 witnesses with 185 exhibits during eight months of proceedings, resulting in 118 joint recommendations. Final statements conclude Friday.
“We look forward to hearing that the Government of Canada will follow through with this process and support these recommendations,” said Fiddler. “We will look for firm commitments by all levels of government and appropriate agencies to work with us immediately to develop a process for the implementation of the jury’s recommendations.”
The Inquest has examined the deaths of Jethro Anderson (in 2000), Curran Strang (in 2005), Paul Panacheese (in 2006), Robyn Harper (in 2007), Reggie Bushie (in 2007), Kyle Morrisseau (in 2009) and Jordan Wabasse (in 2011). All seven died while attending high school in Thunder Bay, far away from their families and home First Nation communities.
The first phase of the Inquest began on October 5, 2015 with testimony from family members about the circumstances surrounding these deaths. The second phase concluded on April 8, 2016 after testimony from expert witnesses who put the students’ experiences into broader context for the jury. The inquest resumed on May 25 for closing statements by all parties