Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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June 28, 2017

NAN RELEASES PROGRESS REPORT ON SEVEN YOUTH INQUEST RECOMMENDATIONS

THUNDER BAY, ON (June 28, 2017): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is looking for commitments from the federal and provincial governments for implementation of inquest recommendations as NAN releases its progress report on the first anniversary of the conclusion of the joint inquest into the deaths of seven NAN youth in Thunder Bay.

“Today we remember our lost youth, their families and communities, and those we have recently lost in the city’s waterways. It is unacceptable that one year after the inquest things haven’t gotten any better when it comes to the safety of our youth, and there are growing concerns for the safety of NAN students in Thunder Bay,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, who provided testimony during the inquest. “The fear is now so great that families do not want to send their students to the city this fall, and we have been forced to call an emergency meeting to address this.”

After hearing from 146 witnesses with 185 exhibits during eight months of proceedings, the jury in the Seven Youth Inquest delivered 145 recommendations on June 28, 2016, directed at improving accountability, safety and education outcomes for all NAN students. NAN immediately called for a process for their immediate implementation, and has participated through a Political Table and an Education Table.

“We acknowledge the efforts of all parties who have accepted responsibility for the implementation of these recommendations. We have addressed each of the 25 recommendations directed at NAN as far as our capacity and authority allow, but the underlying issues and proposed solutions are complex and urgent,” said Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum, who has led NAN’s work on the inquest recommendations. “We have gone as far as we can go and our hands are now tied. We need the political will of Canada and Ontario to address a myriad of issues, including jurisdictional ambiguity and the full implementation of Jordan’s Principle. We remain optimistic that progress can be made, but in the meantime will do everything in our power to keep our youth safe.”

The Seven Youth Inquest examined the deaths of Jethro Anderson (2000), Curran Strang (2005), Paul Panacheese (2006), Robyn Harper (2007), Reggie Bushie (2007), Kyle Morrisseau (2009) and Jordan Wabasse (2011). All seven died while attending high school in Thunder Bay, far away from their families and home First Nation communities.

The recent tragic deaths of Tammy Keeash and Josiah Begg has forced First Nation families and community leaders to question the safety of NAN youth attending school in Thunder Bay. NAN will host an Emergency Chiefs Meeting on Education next week (July 5-6) to address these concerns and provide direction regarding the options for students in the upcoming school year.

NAN also questions the Government of Canada’s commitment to the implementation of the inquest recommendations when they are unnecessarily delaying the provision of equitable child welfare with last week’s appeal of the landmark ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

For more information please contact: Michael Heintzman, Director of Communications – (807) 625-4965 or cell (807) 621-2790 or by email nan%23on%23ca|mheintzman

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