First Nations student deaths inquest: Build schools on reserve, parents say
Parents of Jordan Wabasse say they won't allow other sons to come to city for high school
Bernice and Derek Jacob testified on Monday at an inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students in Thunder Bay, including their son Jordan Wabasse, 15, who died in 2011.
All of the students are from remote First Nations in northern Ontario where formal classroom education doesn't go beyond Grade 10.
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Wabasse "had more options in Thunder Bay," Bernice Jacob told the inquest about her decision to let her son move 600 kilometres south to the city. "He was anxious to come, he wanted to try a hockey league."
There is only an outdoor rink, shoveled by hand, in the remote community, and Wabasse loved hockey, she said. He played net for the Current River Comets after he moved to Thunder Bay.
His teammates were among those who helped search for Wabasse after he disappeared on February 7, 2011. His body was found in the Kaministiquia River on May 10, 2011. There has been little evidence about how he came to be in the water.
'I won't allow it'
Jacob said her 17-year-old son Devon is trying to complete high school in Webequie, but it is challenging because so few courses are offered in the community of about 800 people.
"Will Devon come to school in Thunder Bay?" Jacob's lawyer, Christa Big Canoe, asked her at the inquest.
"No, I won't allow it...because of the loss of Jordan," she said.
Currently no students are being sent from Webequie First Nation to Thunder Bay for high school, Derek Jacob told jurors. Jacob is an education counsellor in the First Nation.
When asked how best to keep First Nations students safe in Thunder Bay without their parents, Derek Jacob didn't answer directly.
"You'd probably have to have high schools in the reserves," Derek Jacob said. "And to have better facilities too."
Jacob said there are about 50 high school students in Webequie and one high school teacher. After Grade 9, they take distance education courses in portables that are "falling apart," he said.
He admitted not allowing Jordan's three brothers to attend high school in the city may limit their opportunities.
Watch live streaming video from the First Nation student deaths inquest here.
Follow CBC Thunder Bay reporter Jody Porter as she tweets from the inquest.