Chief Coroner Confirms York Regional and NAPS Investigating Indigenous River Deaths

Ontario’s Chief Coroner, Dr. Dirk Huyer, has now confirmed that York Regional Police and Nishnawbe Aski Police Services will now be involved in the investigations into the deaths of 17-year-old Tammy Keeash and 14-year-old Josiah Begg, the two Indigenous teens whose bodies were pulled from waterways in Thunder Bay in May 2017.

The coroner’s decision follows a call from First Nations leaders to have the RCMP take over investigations from the Thunder Bay Police Service into the deaths of Indigenous people in Thunder Bay, specifically those of Keeash, Begg and 41-year-old Stacy DeBungee.

Huyer stated, “I felt that this was an opportunity that we could enhance the ability to get the best answers to fully understand the circumstances of these two deaths by asking for the York Regional Police to get involved and help me to get the best understanding of these deaths.”

Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler commented, “they have a role and responsibility [federal government] — especially when it comes to ensuring the safety of our students that come to Thunder Bay to go to high school. The recommendations of the inquest, many are directed to the federal government and they are obligated to help.” That includes ensuring all Indigenous kids have access to safe schooling in safe communities in equitably funded schools.

First Nation Chiefs will hold an emergency meeting on July 5 and 6, 2017, in Thunder Bay to address concerns for the families that refuse to send their students back to the city in September; however, choices are limited. If students do not leave their home communities and head to Thunder Bay, many will not have access to a high school education.

In The News

York Regional Police now investigating Thunder Bay Indigenous teen deaths     Toronto Star, June 22, 2017

York Regional, Nishnawbe-Aski police to investigate Indigenous teens’ deaths in Thunder Bay    CBC, June 22, 2017

Chief coroner asks outside force to probe indigenous teen deaths in Thunder Bay    CTV, June 23, 2017

Escalating racism toward Indigenous people ‘a real problem’ in Thunder Bay says Grand Chief    National Post, July 7 ,2017

A river of tears    Macleans, July 7, 2017

York police visit Begg, Keeash families as Thunder Bay waterway deaths probe enters second week    APTN News, July 12, 2017

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