July 4, 2013 4:03 pm
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TORONTO, ON (July 4, 2013) The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) have been granted status to participate in the initial investigative phase of the Inquest into the Deaths of Seven First Nation Youths.  COO intends to participate fully and to exercise all of their rights to the same extent as persons with standing with the objective to collaborate with the Coroner and the other parties to secure a broad inquest that will examine root causes and arrive at meaningful and realistic recommendations for all affected First Nations in Ontario.

Once the precise scope of the inquest is settled and the official brief is issued, COO will apply for standing to participate in the Inquest with all the rights afforded to parties with standing during the evidentiary phase of the inquest.  The date of the inquest has yet to be announced.

The Inquest will focus on the deaths of seven First Nations youth that were pursuing their education in Thunder Bay away from their families and communities at the time of their deaths. “This inquest is essential to the protection of the lives of First Nation youths and in the protection of their right to access education in the same way as Canadian youth,” stated Regional Chief Stan Beardy. “We welcome the opportunity for the Chiefs of Ontario to be participants in the Inquest.”

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation has been granted full standing at the Inquest.  “We are pleased that Nishhawbe Aski Nation (NAN) obtained full standing.  This only makes sense as all the youth involved were from NAN communities north of Thunder Bay.  I was Grand Chief of NAN when these tragic deaths occurred and we strongly advocated for the special inquest.  We fully support NAN’s participation throughout the process,” stated Beardy. 

The tragic deaths in Thunder Bay raise issues that are common to all First Nations in Ontario, though some will certainly be unique to those in the remote north.  COO’s approach will focus on the critical need to cut through the red tape of the federal, provincial, and municipal governments in order to ensure that First Nation youth get the help and support they need and deserve.

Beardy stated, “We continue to support the families and communities of those youth who are the subject of the Inquest.  Nothing will return the children to their families.  However, if the Inquest is inclusive and broad in scope, there will be a legacy of real change for future generations in all of our First Nations across Ontario.  We are anxious to get started with this very important work.”

The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada.



For more information, please contact:

Andre Morriseau,

Media and Public Relations Officer,

Phone: 416-580-9320



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