Thunder Bay courtroom too small to fit families during inquest into student deaths - APTN NewsAPTN News

Thunder Bay courtroom too small to fit families during inquest into student deaths

Julien Gignac
APTN National News
One of the largest inquests in Ontario history started Monday, yet the selected room could not accommodate family members, let alone all of the witnesses.

The long awaited inquest is exploring the deaths of seven Indigenous students who went to school in Thunder Bay between 2000 and 2011.

The ages of the students spanned from 15 to 21 years-old. Each youth had to relocate – in some cases hundreds of kilometres – to attend high school. Many northern Ontario First Nations do not have access to secondary schools on-reserve due to funding gaps.

Ten seats were provided for 13 witnesses testifying before the inquest, leaving no space for the families of Curran Strang, Paul Panacheese, Robyn Harper, Reggie Bushie, Kyle Morriseau, Jordan Wabasse and Jethro Anderson.

Many individuals showed their indignation via Twitter, including Alvin Fiddler, grand chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, novelist Joseph Boyden and Bob Rae, a former leader of the Liberal party.

“Courts sure make plenty of room for FN in jails,” tweeted Boyden. “Victims’ families can’t attend.”

Fiddler posted a picture of the room, condemning the cramped space.

“Here are 4 of 10 public seats for the long anticipated and the biggest FN’s inquest in Ontario history,” he tweeted.

The Coroner’s office stated that the inquest will be held in a different room tomorrow.

 

@JulienGignac

jgignac@aptn.ca