THUNDER BAY, ON, Sept. 12, 2011 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN)
Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose is calling on the Government of
Ontario to call a Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of seven NAN
youth who have died under similar circumstances since 2000 while
attending school in Thunder Bay.
The call for a Commission of Inquiry comes in the wake of last week's
ruling by the coroner in the Bushie Inquest that the inquest cannot
proceed as the 2011 jury roll is legally invalid.
"A Commission of Inquiry is the only way to fully investigate the
circumstances surrounding these tragic deaths and to find ways to
prevent similar tragedies from happening again," said NAN Deputy Grand
Chief Terry Waboose. "Last week's ruling confirms what we have
suspected for years - that First Nations have been systematically
excluded from the justice system. Even if an inquest into the death of
Reggie Bushie could be convened, two more of our youth have died since
2007 and there is no inquest that is designed to address all seven
Reggie Bushie, 15, died in 2007 while attending school at Dennis
Franklin Cromarty High School in Thunder Bay. His body was recovered
from the McIntyre River on November 1, 2007 and an inquest into his
death was scheduled to begin in January 2009. The inquest was delayed,
however, after NAN and legal counsel for the Bushie family questioned
the validity of the selection process for the five-member jury.
While the death of Reggie Bushie was to be the focus of the inquest, the
deaths of four other NAN youth who died in Thunder Bay under similar
circumstances were to be considered as part of the overall context.
Since then, two more NAN youth - Kyle Morriseau, 17, and Jordan
Wabasse, 15 - have also died in Thunder Bay under similar
"The patterns in these deaths are troubling and simply can't be ignored.
It is clear that if the truth is to come out about the deaths of these
seven youth nothing short of a Commission of Inquiry will suffice,"
said Julian Falconer, NAN's legal counsel. "Since 2008, it has become
increasingly apparent that the problem of the systematic exclusion of
First Nations from the justice system was far more serious than what
the public were told. The truth is coming out and various proceedings
are coming to a standstill. This makes the Iacobucci review all the
more important. It is up to this government to provide First Nations
with a process that will credibly look at all seven deaths - the
Inquest System can't do it."
On August 11, 2011, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
announced the appointment of former Supreme Court Justice, the
Honourable Frank Iacobucci, to inquire into and report on First Nation
representation on Ontario jury rolls. The review will report on any
relevant legislation and process including First Nations persons living
on-reserve on the jury roll, from which potential jurors are selected
for all jury trials and coroners' inquests.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty No. 9 and
Ontario portions of Treaty No. 5 - an area covering two thirds of the
province of Ontario.
SOURCE Nishnawbe Aski Nation
For further information:
Amy Harris, Director of Communications - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4906 or (807) 252-2806 cell or by email email@example.com.
Dottie Goriah - Falconer-Charney LLP (416) 964-3408 ext. 243 or DottieG@falconercharney.com
For more information on the exclusion of First Nations from jury rolls: