NAN wants Keeash’s death treated as a homicide – but police say not yet

APTN National News
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is calling on the Thunder Bay police to treat the death of Tammy Keeash as a homicide.

Keesh’s body was found Sunday in a floodway after she didn’t return to her group home the night before.

“Following conversations with the Thunder Bay Police on Tuesday, it was our understanding that the investigation into the death of Tammy Keeash, 17, is being treated as a homicide until the investigation is completed,” said Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum. “We have strongly encouraged police not to rule out any possible causes for her death until a thorough investigation is completed.”

Keeash was from North Caribou Lake First Nation and in child protection.

She is the fourth First Nations girl to die while living in group homes in Ontario since October 2016.

Thunder Bay police confirmed to APTN that they have not concluded that Keeash was murdered.

“This is a death investigation at this time. We are in the process of reviewing the results of the post-(mortem),” said a statement from police.

A NAN release Wednesday calling for an inquest into the deaths of the girls in child protection said it believed Keesh’s death was a homicide investigation already.

“Her death is being investigated as a homicide,” the release stated.

Keeash’s death is eerily similar to a number of First Nations students attending the Dennis Franklin Cromarty high school.

Students from a number of First Nation communities travels thousands of kilometres from home to attend high school.

Over an 11-year period, five died down by a waterway in Thunder Bay. An inquest was called and a jury issued 145 recommendations.

During that inquest, the police were severely criticized for not properly investigating the deaths of the students.

The police force is currently being reviewed the Office of the Independent Police Review Director for how it handles investigations of violence against First Nations peoples.

The main theme of the release is about NAN’s call for an inquest to look into the death of Keeash, Amy Owen, 13, from Poplar Hills First Nation, who died April 17 in Ottawa. Kanina Sue Turtle, 15, also from Poplar Hills died Oct. 29, 2016, in Sioux Lookout, Ont., Courtney Scott, 16, from Fort Albany First Nation, who died in a house fire on April 21.

A statement from the Ontario Coroner’s office said it will include NAN in any decision whether to call an inquest into the deaths.

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