In an effort to keep their loved ones close to home, elders, children and chiefs in remote First Nations are asking for their own high schools.

"We do not have a proper high school, and I will be there soon," 13-year-old Brennan Shewaybick wrote in a letter to First Nation leaders. "I want a big one where there would be a gym."

Shewaybick is one of several students from Webequie First Nation who wrote letters spelling out what they need to live healthy lives.


Nathan Spence, 12, wrote a letter asking for an indoor arena for Webequie First Nation. (Jody Porter/CBC)

Twelve-year-old Nathan Spence asked for an indoor arena for hockey and broomball.

The requests from Webequie First Nation are especially poignant because they come from the place where Jordan Wabasse used to live. The 15-year-old died last year after he moved to Thunder Bay to play organized hockey and attend high school. 

The school in Webequie doesn't go past grade 10 and there's only an outdoor rink.

Wabasse's death will be examined by an inquest that will also look into the deaths of six other First Nation teens who died while pursuing high school diplomas in Thunder Bay.

Nathan Spence's letter:

"Firstly we want an arena so we can have practice for hockey and broomball. All communities have an arena and we need an arena, not a rink. It is cold and we have to shovel so much snow if we want to skate. The ice gets bad, too, because of the snow."

'Thunder Bay should take a stand and tackle this problem too'

Keewaywin First Nation is another remote community that has to send its children hundreds of kilometres away for high school. The local school only goes up to Grade 8.

Two teens from Keewaywin — Robyn Harper and Kyle Morrisseau — died in the last 10 years while attending high school in Thunder Bay.

Chief David Thompson said he hopes the inquest will help "the government officials to try to grasp just how difficult it is to send our children out."

Thompson said he hopes it also sheds light on whether or not Thunder Bay is safe for First Nations students.


Keewaywin Chief David Thompson hopes the inquest will shed some light on the mystery surrounding the deaths of two First Nations teens from his community who died while attending high school in Thunder Bay. (Jody Porter/CBC)

"If there is a problem in Thunder Bay, with all these number of deaths happening, then I think the city of Thunder Bay should take a stand and tackle this problem too," Thompson said.

"Thunder Bay needs to pull up their socks and do something. The mayor, and also the police force in Thunder Bay need to do a better job of looking after ... the citizens that are in Thunder Bay."

There's no date yet for the inquest to begin.