Thunder Bay·Audio

First Nations student deaths inquest 'devastating' for one mother

The mother of one of the seven First Nations students who died in Thunder Bay says attending the inquest into her their deaths was a 'devastating' experience for her.

'Why was my son in the water,' mother of one of the students who died wants to know

Stella Anderson (right) says the First Nations student deaths inquest made it feel like her son Jethro's death in 2000 'just happened yesterday'. Her sister Saloma Anderson, (left) also testified. (Jody Porter/CBC)
The mother of a First Nations teen who died 15 years ago in Thunder Bay is speaking publically for the first time. Stella Anderson testified at the inquest last week. 4:28

The mother of one of the seven First Nations students who died in Thunder Bay says attending the inquest into their deaths was a 'devastating' experience for her.

Stella Anderson's son, Jethro Anderson, was a 15-year-old student at Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations high school in Thunder Bay when he disappeared on Oct. 28, 2000. His body was discovered in the Kaministiquia River on Nov. 11, 2000.

The bodies of five of the seven students whose deaths are the subject of the inquest were found in waterways in the city. All of the students had left their remote First Nations to attend high school in Thunder Bay.

'It's very important for me to hear what really happened," Stella Anderson said in an exclusive interview with CBC News. "I need to know the answers. Why was my son in the water?"

Several people testified that they had been drinking with Jethro Anderson on the night he disappeared. Two sisters from Mishkeegogamang First Nation, also students at the First Nations high school, were the last to see him at the Kaministiquia River Heritage Park. 

Anderson said hearing the evidence about her son's death at the inquest caused her many sleepless nights.

"It's like it happened yesterday, like I'm repeating looking for my son, expecting to see him," she said.

Anderson's sister, Saloma Anderson, said she came to the inquest to support her sister and to find answers about how her nephew died 15 years ago.

"Just listening to the testimony, I don't know if they're the answers," Saloma Anderson said. "But it has helped us along in our healing journey to know something, because we were never told anything."

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