Thunder Bay

First Nations student deaths inquest to start Oct. 5

The Chief Coroner for Ontario, Dr. Dirk Huyer, says the inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students in Thunder Bay will begin Monday, Oct. 5, in the city.
The seven students who have died in Thunder Bay since 2000 are, from top left, Jethro Anderson, 15, Curran Strang, 18, Paul Panacheese, 17, Robyn Harper, 18, Reggie Bushie, 15, Kyle Morriseau, 17, and Jordan Wabasse, 15. (CBC)

The Chief Coroner for Ontario, Dr. Dirk Huyer, says the inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations students in Thunder Bay will begin Monday, Oct. 5, in the city.

The inquest will look at the circumstances surrounding the deaths of:

  • 15-year-old Jethro Anderson
  • 18-year-old Curran Strang
  •  21-year-old Paul Panacheese
  •  19-year-old Robyn Harper
  •  17-year- old Kyle Morrisseau
  • ​ 15-year-old Jordan Wabasse
  • ​ 15-year-old Reggie Bushie.

The students left their homes in remote communities to attend high school in Thunder Bay. They died during a 10-year period, ending in 2011.

The inquest has been a long time coming, and the families have shown great patience, Huyer said.

"What I'm really hopeful for is that this will allow a number of questions to be answered for the families, for the communities and hopefully for some recommendations that will help to reduce the chances of future, similar deaths," said Huyer.

He said, potentially, there are many bigger societal issues which may have contributed to these deaths.

"Not only are we exploring and giving answers to the families, but we're looking more broadly to see are there systemic issues?"

The inquest is expected to hear from about 200 witnesses, between October 2015 and March 2016, and will take place at a location yet to be determined in Thunder Bay.

Dr. David Eden will preside as inquest coroner and Trevor Jukes, Karen Shea and Amy Leamen will be counsel to the coroner.

The inquest will be streamed live on the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services website.

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