AFN National Chief Honours Strength of Wabasse Family and Community, Calls for Improved Support for First Nation Youth

OTTAWA, May 12 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today offered heartfelt condolences to the family of Jordan Wabasse and the community of Webequie First Nation, and called for better supports for all First Nation youth actively pursuing education and opportunities outside their home communities.

"Today our hearts break for the family and friends of Jordan Wabasse, a First Nation student who relocated from his home community to further his education and hockey talents," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "Unfortunately, Jordan's story is the story of too many of our young people who do not have access to the necessary supports they need when they're forced to leave their homes for urban areas. We must act now to honour the memory of Jordan and the too many other children that are missing and mourned."

National Chief Atleo's comments follow reports confirming the death of Jordan Wabasse, 15, of Webequie First Nation. Jordan had been missing from his boarding home in Thunder Bay, Ontario since February 7, 2011. He is the seventh youth from Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory in Ontario to perish under similar circumstances after relocating to Thunder Bay for schooling since 2000.

"The safety and security of First Nations is essential, particularly our youth who must leave their home communities to attend school, often times over 500 kilometers and a plane ride away," said National Chief Atleo. "We cannot lose any more youth this way. Education should be the tool that empowers our people but, from the residential schools to the current system which is inequitable and under-funded, our children are too often placed in harm's way. Our young people deserve the same support, protection and care as other children."

Nishnawbe Aski Nation, representing 49 First Nation communities in Ontario including Webequie First Nation, has been working with Webequie Chief Cornelius Wabasse, the Wabasse family and Thunder Bay police on search and rescue efforts since Wabasse was reported missing.

"I commend the strength of the Wabasse family over the past few months, Nishnawbe Aski leadership and the many volunteers for their search and rescue efforts," said National Chief Atleo.  "It's this commitment, strength and resilience that must continue to ensure our young people remain safe in their home communities or wherever their dreams take them."

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN and National Chief Atleo on Twitter @AFN_Updates, @AFN_Comms and @NCAtleo. 

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer (613) 241-6789, ext 382 or agaron@afn.ca

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