Questions linger over death of boy in Algonquin as family says goodbye
Friends and family gathered to pay tribute today to the 15-year-old, called the 'lifeline' of his household
Family, friends and classmates gathered to honour Jeremiah Perry, the 15-year-old boy who lost his life on a class trip earlier this month, at a funeral service in North York Monday morning.
Jeremiah died on July 4 while swimming in Algonquin Park's Big Trout Lake. He was on a canoe trip with classmates from C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute.
Officials with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) attended the service at Revivaltime Tabernacle, as did Education Minister Mitzie Hunter, who would not comment on the ongoing investigation into the quality of swim tests or supervision at the time Jeremiah and his classmates were swimming.
Joshua Anderson, the boy's father, told CBC Toronto before a vigil held Friday night that Jeremiah did not know how to swim.
The school board has said repeatedly that every student who went on the camping trip was required to pass a swim test. Anderson, however, told CBC Toronto that he didn't know if Jeremiah had passed his test.
John Malloy, director of education for the TDSB and Robin Pilkey, the board's chairperson, were both at the funeral service. Malloy spoke briefly.
"We care deeply about each and every one of our students, including Jeremiah," Malloy said.
The TDSB said in a statement last week that it's reviewing its excursion practices and the Ontario Provincial Police and the Office of the Chief Coroner are investigating the death.
Mitzie Hunter also spoke at the service.
"It's a tough day to have to bury your son," Hunter told reporters after the funeral. "We're here to express our deep and heartfelt support to the family."
Hunter said her presence was also meant to let the family know "that the school community is there to support, as much as is needed and as much as they would want that."
Hunter said the TDSB is committed to the safety of its students and will take steps to ensure the incident isn't repeated as it reviews its excursion procedures.
Jeremiah's younger siblings spoke fondly of the teen during the service, but his older brother could only shake his head silently.
"He was the lifeline of his household," said one speaker at the service, paying tribute to Jeremiah.
"He was the centre of attention wherever he went."
With files from Shanifa Nasser