Missing Neskantaga Teenager Found Deceased in Thunder Bay

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NDP Leader Singh with MP Charlie Angus and MPP Sol Mamakwa in Neskantaga. Photo by Ben Sakanee
Photo by Ben Sakanee

NAN and Neskantaga Question Missing Person Process in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – Thunder Bay Police report that Missing person Mackenzie (Nathan) MOONIAS has been located. In a media release the TBPS say, “This is now a private matter between investigators and family.”

TBPS state that no further information will be provided at this time.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Neskantaga Chief Chris Moonias are questioning the reporting process for missing persons in the City of Thunder Bay while expressing heartfelt condolences to the family of missing teenager Mackenzie (Nathan) Moonias.

“Since her disappearance we have hoped and prayed that Mackenzie would be found safe and reunited with her family and friends. Tragically, our worst fears have been confirmed with the sad news of her tragic death today,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and the Neskantaga community who are grieving this terrible loss so close to the holidays. They are our focus right now, but this disappearance has raised serious questions about the protocols and procedures around missing person investigations involving Indigenous youth.”

Mackenzie was last seen on December 13, 2023, at approximately 9:00am in the 100 block of University Drive. Her body was discovered Monday morning near the Sleeping Giant Parkway.

“On behalf of Neskantaga I thank the family, community members, volunteers, and agencies who supported searches for nearly a week for our missing youth. Many of our youth are forced to leave home as young as 13 or 14 years old in order to pursue their education. They are often faced with challenges they are not prepared for, and it can be an overwhelming experience,” said Neskantaga First Nation Chief Chris Moonias. “It is unacceptable that we continue to bring our youth home in coffins. We fully expect that Mackenzie’s death will not simply be ruled an accident before a thorough and competent investigation is conducted.”

MPP Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong), Deputy Leader of the Ontario NDP and Official Opposition critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations issued the following statement in condolence to the family of missing youth Mackenzie Moonias:

“Our thoughts and hearts are with Mackenzie’s family members, their friends, leadership, and the community during this sad time. I send my condolences to everyone impacted by the loss of their relative and friend. We hope they find solace and strength in community and feel an outpouring of love from across the province as we mourn together.

“Mackenzie was in Thunder Bay to attend high school. They were one of the many young people from Kiiwetinoong who leave home to pursue their educational goals. It has been seven and half years since the release of the Seven Youth Inquest and many of the 145 jury recommendations have not been implemented. These recommendations were intended to prevent any further loss of our children and must be implemented.”

NAN and Neskantaga leadership do not yet fully understand the circumstances regarding this tragic passing and have many questions. We are extremely concerned that gaps in the process for reporting missing persons, identified through the Seven Youth Inquest, are apparently still at play when Indigenous youth are reported missing.

The Seven Youth Inquest examined the deaths of seven First Nations youth who died tragically between 2000-2011 while attending high school in Thunder Bay. In 2016, the Inquest jury made 145 recommendations to prevent similar deaths, many of which have yet to be fully implemented.

NetNewsLedger’s first report on this missing person report was on December 16th. Our reporting continued with two reports on December 17th as Thunder Bay Police supplied additional images to media. The second report on December 17th was updated with information on the Search Headquarters added.

In addition to the Seven Youth Inquest recommendations, there are also recommendations from the OIPRD Broken Trust Report.

Broken Trust Report Recommendations

There are 44 recommendations in the Broken Trust Report. As of June 2023 65% of the total recommendations are listed by the OIPRD as ongoing and 35% are listed as completed.

The OIPRD has developed a Broken Trust recommendations progress tracker on its website. The progress tracker notes the recommendations that were implemented by the end of 2022. The remaining recommendations could not be assessed because they are evolving. Other recommendations relate to ongoing investigations or could be impacted by the Office of the Chief Coroner’s current systemic review of the Broken Trust Re-Investigation of Indigenous deaths in Thunder Bay.

Specifically to the issue of Missing Persons, there are two recommendations which are still ongoing.

  • Recommendation 22 – ONGOING

    Recommendation: TBPS and the Board should re-evaluate their missing persons policies, procedures, and practices upon review of the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, due to be released on or before April 30, 2019.

    Status: TBPS reports that it is developing and implementing policies and procedures, on an ongoing basis, in line with the MMIWG report.

    The OIPRD continues to review new iterations of the TBPS missing persons policies, procedures, and practices to ensure that they specifically address Indigenous persons reported missing in Thunder Bay.

    • Recommendation 23 – ONGOING

      Recommendation: TBPS and the Board should re-evaluate their missing persons policies, procedures, and practices upon review of the Honorable Gloria Epstein’s report on Toronto Police Service’s missing persons investigations due to be released in April 2020.

      Status: TBPS reports that it is developing and implementing policies and procedures, on an ongoing basis, in line with the Honorable Gloria Epstein’s report.

      The OIPRD continues to review new iterations of the TBPS missing persons policies, procedures, and practices to ensure that they specifically address Indigenous persons reported missing in Thunder Bay.

NetNewsLedger extends our condolences to the friends and family of Mackenzie and to the Neskantaga community.

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