Thunder Bay First Nation student inquest sparks first ever ‘political table’

Willow Fiddler
APTN National News
Six months ago, an inquest jury delivered recommendations on how to prevent First Nations students from dying after seven died between 2000 and 2011 in Thunder Bay.

One of the recommendations was making sure they were implemented.

Those responsible met Wednesday to report on their progress.

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs said a student resident building is in the works but offered little details.

“We’re working on a really great project with one of the First Nation groups and it’s going to be exciting and unfortunately I can’t talk about it. But we’re in the throes of that and it involves city facilities so stay tuned for that one – that’s going to be a really great announcement,” he said.

Nishanwbe-Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepinkeskum led the discussion and said they can’t afford to let the recommendations collect dust.

“Also to ensure that there is accountability, as you know there’s been many inquests, there have been many inquires where the recommendations are in a nice little booklet. You know, they go on some shelf and they collect dust and we refuse to let that happen to this particular inquest. It’s too important, we’ve lost too many young people,” said Achneepinkeskum.

 

Despite verbal commitments government reps said lack of funding remains a barrier, leaving partners frustrated.

“It’s really sad it took seven youths deaths of an inquest to bring us all together,” said Norma Kejick, administrator of Northern Nishnawbe Education Council. “This is long overdue and we need to stop talking and start action. We need action and it needs to happen soon.”

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Video Journalist / Thunder Bay

Willow is an Oji-Cree Anishinabe from Sandy Lake First Nation. Her background is in print journalism and she studied multimedia before entering broadcast news . She is passionate about the stories of the Anishinabe in northwestern Ontario, particularly in the remote north.