Support for Families During Joint Inquest
Seven Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) youth have died under similar circumstances while attending school in Thunder Bay since 2000, including 15-year-old Reggie Bushie who died in 2007 while attending school at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School.
An Inquest into the Death of Reggie Bushie was ordered by the Coroner’s office in 2008 but was delayed due to legal issues with the selection of the jury roll. Pre-inquest hearings in 2011 examined First Nation representation on the Thunder Bay district jury roll, and the inquest coroner ruled that the Bushie Inquest could not proceed as the jury roll was not representative of First Nation residents.
Due to the similarities in all seven cases, NAN called for a broader inquiry to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss of these youth and to find ways to prevent such tragedies from happening again. NAN received the expressed support of Chiefs and the families of the victims for a Joint Inquest into the deaths of all seven youth, which was announced by the Chief Coroner of Ontario on May 31, 2012.
NAN has secured a commitment from the Ministry of Attorney General ensuring that adequate support services will be in place for the families and communities during the inquest. A conference was held in February 2013 to bring the families together and prepare them for the inquest process.
NAN’s Special Projects department is working closely with the families to ensure they have the necessary legal, cultural and other support services before the inquest begins. Family support workers will assist the families with emotional support, travel and accommodations. The counselling and translation services will be provided the duration of the inquest.