Nishnawbe Aski Nation deputy grand chief Alvin Fiddler.
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Two years after the death of 15-year-old Jordan Wabasse and little has been done to prevent tragedies like this from happen again, says Alvin Fiddler.
The deputy grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation gave an update on the conditions of the families who lost loved ones under similar circumstances while attending school in the city. NAN was assisting the families in their preparation for a joint inquest into the seven youth.
Fiddler said it was the first time that most of the families came together in one room.
Feb. 8 marked the two-year anniversary of when Jordan - a Dennis Franklin Cromarty school student living in Thunder Bay and away from his home to get a high school education - went missing.
After months of searching his body was eventually recovered from the Kaministiquia River in May.
“The issues and the conditions we feel lead to his death are still there,” Fidler said.
“It’s been a very difficult time for the families, a very painful time. I think there’s frustration for all of the families. First of all, they don’t have all the answers to the many questions that they have. I also think there’s a bit of frustration for the length of time for this inquiry to unfold.”
The provinces' chief coroner called a joint inquest into the deaths of seven Aboriginal teens, including Jordan, who were attending school in Thunder Bay in May last year. It's was an expansion of the inquest involving 15-year-old Reggie Bushie, of Poplar Hill First Nation, who was found in the McIntyre River in 2007.
OPP and officials from the coroner’s office spoke with the families to give them an update on what was happening with the investigation and what to expect during the inquest.
“They’re looking forward to this process with the hopes that this inquiry once it resumes will answer some of the questions that they have,” he said. “The obvious question they have is: Why did their son or daughter have to die while they attended high school?”
Fiddler said they also want to look at ways to increase funding to schools in First Nation communities. With enough funding in place, students won’t have to travel in order to further their education.
He said it’s hard to say if having students stay in their home communities would be enough to prevent tragedies like these from happening again.
He also wasn’t sure when the inquiry would resume but hoped for this year or the beginning of next year.
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