Thunder Bay

First Nations teen found dead was living in group home in Thunder Bay, Ont., chief says

First Nations leaders say they're left with more unanswered questions after the body of 17-year-old Tammy Keeash was discovered in a river in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Sunday.

Tammy Keeash, 17, is the 4th Indigenous teen to die in Ontario's child welfare system since October

Thunder Bay Police hope to receive information on the whereabouts of Tammy Keeash, before her death. Her body was found in the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway on Sunday night. (Thunder Bay Police)

A 17-year-old girl from North Caribou Lake First Nation was in the care of the child welfare system when she was found dead in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Sunday, according to Alvin Fiddler, grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

The body of Tammy Keeash was discovered in the Neebing-McIntyre floodway around 9 p.m. on Sunday. Police asked for help in identifying the girl and on Tuesday released her name and photo asking for more assistance in piecing together her final hours.

Keeash is the fourth teen from a remote First Nation in northern Ontario to die while in the custody of a child welfare agency since October.

"It's another tragic loss for our communities, knowing that we have lost so many of our youth," said Fiddler during a break in a chief's assembly in Timmins, Ont., where leaders from 49 northern Ontario First Nations are meeting this week.

Keeash's name will be added to the chiefs resolution on Wednesday calling for mandatory inquests into the deaths of children in care, Fiddler said.

Alvin Fiddler is the Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC)
The push for inquests came last month after two girls from remote First Nations died within days of each other in the Ottawa area.

Amy Owen, 13, from Poplar Hill First Nation died on April 17 after being in care in a group home in Prescott, Ont. The official cause of her death has not yet been determined. It is also not clear where she was when she died.

Courtney Scott, 16, from Fort Albany First Nation, died in a house fire at her foster home in Orléans on April 21.

Their deaths followed the loss of Kanina Sue Turtle, 15. She died on October 29, 2016, while in a group home in Sioux Lookout. 

Other deaths in the river

Fiddler said Keeash's death is also a reminder of the five other First Nations teens whose bodies have been discovered in rivers in Thunder Bay since 2000.

The deaths of Jethro Anderson, Curran Strang, Reggie Bushie, Kyle Morrisseau and Jordan Wabasse were part of a coroner's inquest in Thunder Bay last year.

The jury at the inquest recommended a safety audit of areas known to be dangerous for Indigenous teens.

"That's one of the questions we have for the city and also for the police," Fiddler said."One of the recommendations from the inquest was to increase security in certain areas of the city, including the McIntyre River floodway and as far as we know those measures have not been put in place."