THUNDER BAY, ON, Oct. 5, 2015 /CNW/ - The Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Irwin Elman, sees the inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations youth as a critical first step in addressing the deaths of seven First Nations students: Jethro Anderson, 15, Curran Strang, 18, Robyn Harper, 19, Paul Panacheese, 21, Reggie Bushie, 15, Kyle Morriseau, 17, and Jordan Wabasse, 15, between 2000 and 2011.
"We understand how painful of a process this inquest will be for the families, communities and students of the school who lost their precious loved ones. We admire their courage as they strive to understand what has happened and ensure that no other young person will die so tragically," said Elman.
The inquest will hear evidence on the circumstances of each of the seven youths who died. At the end of the process, a jury will make recommendations including changes that could prevent future deaths. During the inquest, the Provincial Advocate's office will provide testimony tied to the expertise it has gained from its work in northern Ontario with First Nations youth and communities.
Elman says, "Additionally, we are working with a group of First Nations youth who will come together over the course of the inquest to meet with my staff and be updated on what is taking place in court and the issues being brought forward. At this time, we anticipate that these young people will want their voices added to the work of the inquest in some way or another. They are clear that change is needed now."
Elman adds, "The inquest is an opportunity to examine the complex issues that led to the seven deaths. We will respect the process of the inquest and trust that the jury will come up with recommendations that the families, communities and city of Thunder Bay will see implemented."
About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools). The Provincial Advocate may identify systemic problems involving children, conduct reviews and provide education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children. The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement.
SOURCE Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
For further information: Media Contact: Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth at (416) 325-5669 or Toll-free at 1-800-263-2841.