Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth pleased that long-awaited inquest into deaths of First Nations teens in Thunder Bay will start October 5
TORONTO, Sept. 17, 2015 – Today, the presiding coroner, Dr. David Eden, released the start date for and agreed to include evidence on racism in the long-awaited inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students: Jethro Anderson (age 15), Curran Strang (age 18), Robyn Harper (age 19), Paul Panacheese (age 21), Reggie Bushie (age 15), Kyle Morriseau (age 17) and Jordan Wabasse (age 15).
I am pleased that this inquest is finally getting underway on October 5, 2015. The prolonged delays in starting the inquest have stymied change that may prevent future deaths.
I am relieved to see that the coroner will allow evidence in the inquest on the impact of racism and its effects on the mental health and well-being of these teens who are forced to live away from their families and remote communities in order to receive a high school education.
As an independent voice for children and youth in Ontario, my Office has heard too often that the language of racism is painful and a reality for First Nations young people. Racism is felt in every facet of their young lives. We owe it to the deceased and their families to ensure that all the factors and conditions that may have contributed to the deaths of these youth are examined.
As a result of the allowance of additional evidence, I have advised my legal counsel not to proceed with a judicial review of the original scope.
Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools). The Provincial Advocate may identify systemic problems involving children, conduct reviews and provide education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children. The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement.
For further information: Media Contact: Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Phone: (416) 325-5669 or Toll-free: 1-800-263-2841