Tag Archives: students

Jurors: Deaths Of Four First Nations Youth Undetermined; Three Accidental

The seven students who have died in Thunder Bay since 2000 are, from top left, Jethro Anderson, 15, Curran Strang, 18, Paul Panacheese, 17, Robyn Harper, 18, Reggie Bushie, 15, Kyle Morriseau, 17, and Jordan Wabasse, 15. (CBC)

The seven students who have died in Thunder Bay since 2000 are, from top left, Jethro Anderson, 15, Curran Strang, 18, Paul Panacheese, 17, Robyn Harper, 18, Reggie Bushie, 15, Kyle Morriseau, 17, and Jordan Wabasse, 15. (CBC)

The Canadian Press, June 29, 2016

The deaths of four First Nations youth who moved from their remote northern Ontario reserves to attend high school in Thunder Bay, Ont., occurred in an undetermined manner, an inquest jury decided Tuesday.

Three other deaths examined at the months-long inquest were deemed accidental, the packed courtroom heard.

Jethro Anderson, 15, Curran Strang, 18, Robyn Harper, 19, Paul Panacheese, 21, Reggie Bushie, 15, Kyle Morrisseau, 17 and Jordan Wabasse, also 15, all died between November 2000 and May 2011.

“All seven were beloved children who died tragically and prematurely and lost the opportunity to lead their own lives, raise their own families and make their own valuable contribution,” said presiding coroner, Dr. David Eden.

The death of Panacheese, who collapsed at his boarding house, was found to be undetermined. Harper was found dead of acute alcohol poisoning at her boarding home the morning after she went out drinking with friends. She had been in the city just two days. Her death was ruled an accident.

The drowned bodies of the other five were all found in or near rivers in the city. In four of the drowning cases, alcohol played a role.

The deaths of Anderson, Morrisseau and Wabasse were deemed undetermined — meaning jurors could not decide how they got into the rivers — while those of Strang and Bushie were ruled accidental.

Julian Falconer, lawyer for the Nishnawbe Aski Nation from whose communities the young people came, called the verdicts related to some of those who drowned significant.

“‘Undetermined’ in respect of three of five of the drowning deaths sends a clear message that the police investigations were deeply flawed,” Falconer said. “Consequently, tragically, there is no way to rule out that these kids were deliberately killed.”

Jurors called for development of policies on dealing with missing students, including the timely filing of missing-person reports, the use of social media in subsequent searches, and training for Thunder Bay police in investigating such cases.

Lawyer Brian Gover, who represented the police, said it’s easy to be critical in hindsight but noted the service had already made many improvements in its processes.

“The cases took place over 11 years, and in the course of those 11 years, the Thunder Bay Police Service adapted its response to the problem of missing First Nation youths,” Gover said.

In all, jurors made 145 recommendations in 18 broad areas aimed at preventing a recurrence — most directed at the federal and Ontario governments. They include a call for more funding for aboriginal education with the aim of closing the gap between native and non-native students regarding educational outcomes within 10 years.

“To ensure sufficient and stable funding for First Nations education, Canada and First Nations should jointly develop a new and fully transparent funding framework for First Nations education that is based on actual student needs,” jurors recommended.

Other recommendations were aimed at ensuring aboriginal students receive proper supports while at high school in Thunder Bay, including access to substance-abuse treatment and programs. Jurors also called for an end to “runners,” people who buy alcohol for under-age drinkers.

The five jurors also recommended educating students on the UN Declaration of the Rights of a Child and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They essentially adopted several of the TRC’s recommendations, among them enhancing aboriginal content in the school curriculum.

Reports on the recommendations should happen annually until all have been implemented or rejected, jurors said.

“The findings are crucial to understanding the underlying issues that our youth are faced with when attending school in urban centres,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day.

Six of the seven youths went to Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, while the seventh attended the Matawa Learning Centre.

The inquest, which began last October, heard from about 150 witnesses.

“There remains much work for all of us to do to ensure indigenous people are treated fairly and with respect for their culture and traditions,” Eden said.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett welcomed the jury findings.

“This report shines a light on a terrible and preventable tragedy,” Bennett said in a statement.

“We understand and agree that there are large and systemic issues at play which led to these tragic losses of life.”

Ontario’s chief coroner had initially called an inquest into Bushie’s death. Like some of the others, he was found drowned in the McIntyre River in 2007. However, the process ground to a halt in 2008 due in part to a legal challenge related to the lack of aboriginal people on coroner’s juries that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.


First Nation Student Deaths Inquest: 5 Things Revealed So Far



CBC News

Testimony so far shows lack of communication with families, and challenges faced by students

The inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students in Thunder Bay, Ont., begins its fifth week of testimony on Monday with a continued focus on students whose bodies were found in waterways in the city.

Pathologists testified during the first week of the inquest that five of the students — Jethro Anderson, Curran Strang, Reggie Bushie, Kyle Morrisseau and Jordan Wabasse — died by drowning, but questions remain about how the teens ended up in the water.

Evidence about Jethro Anderson’s death is expected to wrap up on Monday with the inquest turning its attention to Curran Strang’s death for the remainder of the week.

The first weeks of testimony dealt with the deaths of Paul Panacheese, who mysteriously collapsed as a 21-year-old student in 2006 andRobyn Harper,18, who died in 2007 of alcohol poisoning in her boarding home.

Here are five things revealed at the inquest so far:

1. Mothers received no official information about the deaths of their children

All three mothers who have testified so far — Maryanne Panacheese, Tina Harper and Stella Anderson — told the inquest that neither police nor the coroner talked to them about how their children died.

Harper and Panacheese said it was only through the inquest that they learned what officials knew about the deaths.

Ontario’s Chief Coroner, Dr. Dirk Huyer, testified on Oct. 30, that communication with families is “something we’re striving to overcome” as a death investigation service.

2. First Nations students struggle with racism in the city

Several former students have testified about the incidents of racism they experienced while attending high school in Thunder Bay.

Skye Kakekagumick, from Keewaywin First Nation, testified that several times, food was thrown at her from passing vehicles and people made a war-whooping noise and yelled things such as “stupid savage, go back home.'”

3. Teens’ alcohol use fuelled by loneliness

Friends of both Robyn Harper and Jethro Anderson testified the teens were drinking before they died.

Kakekagumick told inquest jurors that she used alcohol to cope with the racism and loneliness she experienced in the city.

“I made friends like that too, and everyone around me,” she testified. “I guess we were just taking the easy way. We didn’t know any other way. We were just kids.”

4. Police response questioned

Dora Morris, the aunt and boarding home parent of Jethro Anderson testified that she was told by police that the boy was “just out there partying like any native kid”, when she reported him missing.

The inquest heard that police issued a news release saying no foul play was suspected in Anderson’s death before a post-mortem was complete.

A police officer testified Thunder Bay police did not launch a criminal investigation into Anderson’s disappearance until six days after he was reported missing.

“The police have a tendency to default to a drowning and liquor scenario, literally, almost automatically,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation lawyer Julian Falconer.

5. Families may not get all the answers they’re seeking from the inquest

Jethro Anderson’s mother, Stella, fled the court room in tears when a police officer testified about a tip he received that Anderson had been murdered.

The officer later testified that he deemed the tip not credible and an investigation was not pursued, but the information came as a shock to family members.

Anderson’s lawyer, Christa Big Canoe, says the inquest process is not designed to provide exact details about the deaths.

“You’re never going to get a perfect answer but learning all the components and different parts of the story will help the family understand more,” Big Canoe said.

The inquest is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. on Monday. Click here for live coverage on Twitter by @cbcreporter from the inquest.

Follow the inquest at www.cbc.ca 

Indigenous Cases Treated By Police As ‘Less Than Worthy Victims,’ Lawyer Says


Police didn’t start a criminal investigation into 15-year-old Jethro Anderson’s disappearance from this Thunder Bay, Ont., park until six days after he was reported missing in October 2000. (Adam Burns/CBC)

CBC News

Woman says her nephew’s disappearance not taken seriously by Thunder Bay, Ont., police

An inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students in Thunder Bay, Ont., is providing a preview of concerns that could be raised at a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, says a lawyer for the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

The inquest, one of the largest in Ontario’s history, started on Oct. 5 and is scheduled to run to March 2016.

It’s looking at the deaths of students who died between 2000 and 2011 while attending high school in Thunder Bay. Few remote First Nations in northern Ontario have schools that go beyond Grade 10.

“Sadly there’s a theme — less than worthy victims,” lawyer Julian Falconer said after cross-examining an officer with the Thunder Bay police at the inquest.

Julian Falconer

Nishnawbe Aski Nation lawyer Julian Falconer says First Nations people are treated as ‘less than worthy victims’ by police. (Martine Laberge/CBC)

“It’s a theme that ties into not just this case but the entire picture around missing and murdered indigenous women and girls: less than worthy victims, I can sadly say this is part of that bigger picture,” he said.

The retired police officer testified at the inquest that Thunder Bay police did not launch a criminal investigation into the death of Jethro Anderson until six days after he was reported missing in October 2000.

The body of the 15-year-old was pulled from the Kaministiquia River in Thunder Bay on Nov. 11, 2000, nearly two weeks after he disappeared.

Anderson, from Kasabonika Lake First Nation, was staying with his aunt, Dora Morris, while he attended the First Nations high school in Thunder Bay.

Morris told the inquest that she called Thunder Bay police about her nephew’s disappearance within hours of him missing curfew, but her concerns were not taken seriously.

“I called every day just to ask if they had any leads,” Morris told CBC News in an interview after she testified. “And every time I called, the answer was always, ‘He’s just out there partying like any native kid,’ those kind of comments.”

Jethro Anderson

Jethro Anderson of Kasabonika Lake First Nation died in 2000 while attending high school in Thunder Bay. He was 15. (CBC)

The comments, along with a police news release saying no foul play was suspected in Anderson’s death sent out prior to a post-mortem, show police had “tunnel vision” when it came to the investigation, Falconer said at the inquest.

“The police have a tendency to default to a drowning and liquor scenario, literally, almost automatically,” Falconer said of the investigations of five students whose bodies were pulled from local rivers, as well as other similar recent deaths of First Nations people.

Detective Sgt. Allan Shorrock, now retired, denied the allegation that investigators he supervised had tunnel vision.

Morris said she still does not believe the police conclusion that her nephew drowned, but she’s uncertain whether the inquest will solve the mystery she believes still exists surrounding his death.

‘Start searching right away’

She hopes, however, that by speaking out changes will be made to keep First Nations youth safe in the city.

“Like if things happen like this again, that they would start searching right away and do investigations,” she said.

Falconer, who represents the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, said the revelations that have already come out at the First Nations student deaths inquest point to the need for a regional component in a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

“Thunder Bay is a perfect example,” he said. “We need to have a local process for identifying the deaths and asking the kinds of tough questions that were asked today, [because] aboriginal communities continue to be concerned that when something happens to their people, it’s not treated with the same gravity or importance.”

In their election platform, the Liberals committed to “immediately” launch a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada.

The party said it would seek recommendations for governments, law enforcement and others to help “solve these crimes and prevent future ones.” It also promised to spend $40 million on the study over two years.


First Nations students’ death inquest may start in fall 2015

The seven students who have died in Thunder Bay since 2000 are, from top left, Jethro Anderson, 15, Curran Strang, 18, Paul Panacheese, 17, Robyn Harper, 18, Reggie Bushie, 15, Kyle Morriseau, 17, and Jordan Wabasse, 15. (CBC)

The seven students who have died in Thunder Bay since 2000 are, from top left, Jethro Anderson, 15, Curran Strang, 18, Paul Panacheese, 17, Robyn Harper, 18, Reggie Bushie, 15, Kyle Morriseau, 17, and Jordan Wabasse, 15. (CBC)

CBC News

A temporary change in the Ontario Coroner’s Act allows for aboriginal volunteers on jury roll

A recent revision to the Ontario Coroner’s Act means a inquest into the deaths of seven young First Nations people, who died while attending school in Thunder Bay, may finally begin in the fall of 2015, according to Ontario’s Chief Coroner.

The inquest was first called in 2012. The first of the seven students died in 2000, the last in 2011.

The inquest had been delayed, in part, because of a lack of aboriginal representation on the jury roll.

The change in legislation lays the groundwork to allow volunteers from First Nations communities in the Kenora and Thunder Bay districts to serve on those juries, said Ontario Chief Coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer.

“It gives us the opportunity to ensure that the jury list we draw from is representative of the community and then from that list there will be a random draw to be members of the juries.”

However, the change does not ensure an aboriginal person will be part of the jury that is eventually chosen.

“There’s no guarantee under the jury processes that we have that the ethnicity of the jury will match the ethnicity of the person,” said Dr. Huyer.

The legislation is temporary and does not impact the jury selection process for criminal trials, several of which have also been delayed because of a lack of aboriginal representation. The new legislation stipulates that selection for an inquest jury must be made before December 31, 2016.

Dr. Huyer stated he is satisfied that this time-limited regulation will assist in moving forward with inquests to the benefit of the families, communities and province in general.

The recommendation that people be permitted to volunteer for the jury roll was made by former Chief Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci in his 2013 report on First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries.


Protesters crash Science World LNG career forum in Kamloops (VIDEO)


By Black Powder | Red Power Media

What started as a forum teaching about potential careers in LNG was turned into a protest by about a dozen demonstrators from the Secwepemc Women Warrior Society and The Caretakers on Tuesday, in Kamloops, B.C.

CBC News reported about a dozen anti-fracking demonstrators waving signs reading “Fracking endangers humanity” burst into the auditorium, where the forum was being hosted by the province, WorkBC and Science World.

“We went to intervene and let the children know that they have choices,” said Kanahus Manuel, one of protesters.

“Whether it is clean water or indigenous land rights, they have choices on where their position is going to be as the future.”

The protesters were eventually forced from the conference by RCMP officers.

The demonstrators tried to disrupt the conference again on Wednesday, but were stopped by RCMP and taken into custody.

About 750 students have attended the forum so far.