Inquest into the Deaths of Seven First Nations Youth: Summary
This joint inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding the deaths of seven First Nations youth who died under similar circumstances while attending school in Thunder Bay: Reggie Bushie, Jethro Anderson, Jordan Wabasse, Kyle Morriseau, Curran Strang, Paul Panacheese, and Robyn Harper.
The Inquest into the Death of Seven First Nations Youth was originally an inquest into the loss of only one of these students, Reggie Bushie. However, his inquest was stalled in 2008, due to concerns regarding the lack of First Nations representation on jury rolls. NAN legally pursued this issue to the Court of Appeal, and politically advocated for solutions with the Ontario government. In response, Justice Frank Iacobucci was appointed to review the issue of First Nations representation on jury rolls.
The Iacobucci Report, and the resulting Iacobucci Implementation Committee, Debwewin, took up the views of the First Nations community members who had requested a way to volunteer for Coroner’s Inquest juries. Ontario passed a regulation to allow First Nations people living on reserve to volunteer, and the Volunteer Jury Initiative began.
While this work on jury composition was occurring, in May 2012, NAN wrote to the Chief Coroner with an application to hold a Joint Inquest into the Deaths of all Seven Youths. This application was granted, and NAN applied for standing at this Joint Inquest.
In April, a hearing was held with regard to the scope of the Inquest. Nishnawbe Aski Nation, represented by lawyers Julian Falconer and Meaghan Daniel and Lakehead Law student Samantha Ramage, was in attendance at the hearing to argue that the scope should be expanded to include issues such as the racism faced by the youth, treaty and constitutional obligations held by the Federal government, and the quality of the Thunder Bay Police Service’s investigation into their disappearances.
The Inquest is the first inquest to go forward using the First Nations volunteer juror list. Lawyers Julian Falconer and Meaghan Daniel of Falconers LLP are appearing on behalf of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, the political territorial organization representing the youth’s communities of origin.
NAN’s Application to Hold a Joint Inquest into the Deaths of all Seven Youths May 11, 2012
NAN’s Application for Standing at Joint Inquest into the Deaths of Seven First Nations Youth June 7, 2013
Submissions of the Families and NAN to Expand the Scope of the Inquest February 17, 2015
Notice of Application for Judicial Review of the Scope Ruling June 5, 2015
Dr. Eden’s Scope Ruling April 14, 2015
Coroner’s Press Releases
Coroner’s Press Release: Location Announced for Inquest into the Deaths of Seven First Nations Youths September 30, 2015
Coroner’s Press Release: Inquest Date into the Deaths of Seven First Nations Youth Announced September 16, 2015
History of the Proceedings
Inquest into the Death of Reggie Bushie is stalled by jury concerns:
Court of Appeal Ruling Regarding First Nations Representation on Inquest Juries March 10, 2011
Press Release Announcing Justice Iacobucci’s Review of First Nations Representation on the Jury Roll August 11, 2011
Iacobucci Report: First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries February, 2013
Ontario Passes Regulation to Allow First Nations Volunteers for Inquest Juries December 12, 2014
For more information about the Volunteer Jury Initiative, click here.
In the News
A glimpse into the lives and issues surrounding the deaths of 7 Indigenous students in Thunder Bay APTN National News, September 30, 2015
Seven native youth left for high school and never returned: Finally, an inquest Toronto Star, September 17, 2015
NAN requesting inquest examine quality of policing, impact of racism TBNewswatch, April 14, 2015
NAN Pushes for Inclusion of Racism and Quality of Police Investigation in Inquest Scope Nationtalk, April 14, 2015
NAN lawyer officially asks for expanded scope for inquest into death of Aboriginal students TBNewswatch, April 14, 2015
NAN calls for inquiry into teen deaths April 15, 2011
NAN calls for Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of seven NAN youth in Thunder Bay Canada Newswire, September 12, 2011