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City's Response to Seven Youth Inquest

River Safety Audit Group

 Photo caption: Conducted training and audits of watercourse and river areas where we know youth frequently go (Recommendation 115)

 

Maamawe: All Together

The inquest into the deaths of seven First Nations youth began on October 5, 2015. It ended on June 28, 2016 when the jury gave its verdict.

The Seven Youth Inquest resulted in 145 recommendations. Thirty-one were directed to the City of Thunder Bay, mostly along with other partners. The City responded with a report to Council on June 12.

The inquest investigated the deaths of Jethro Anderson, 15, Reggie Bushie, 15, Robyn Harper, 18, Kyle Morrisseau, 17, Paul Panacheese, 21, Curran Strang, 18, and Jordan Wabasse, 15.

“We got to work even before the recommendations were handed down,” said Norm Gale, City Manager. “We’ve been thoughtful, formal, and collaborative. We share in the grief that the families and our community are feeling.”

The recommendations address the needs of First Nation youth who come to Thunder Bay to attend high school, away from their families and home communities. While the recommendations are not legally binding, the inquest’s main purpose was to prevent more deaths.

“We are acting on the recommendations,” said Karen Lewis, Director of Corporate Strategic Services and lead on the City’s response. “They are aimed at putting in place programs that improve the physical, social, and cultural infrastructure. We want everyone who comes to Thunder Bay to feel included, engaged, safe, and have opportunities to succeed.”

Also, the City’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee is seeking support from the federal and provincial governments to help the City and its partners put the recommendations into action.

Fort William First Nation logoThe City of Thunder Bay in partnership with Fort William First Nation support the recommendations of the inquest. The City of Thunder Bay has been built on the traditional territory of Fort William First Nation-signatory to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850.

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“The purpose of an Inquest is to look for lessons that can be learned from the deaths that may contribute to a safer future for the living.”
- Ontario Chief Coroner Dirk Huyer, MD
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On June 12, City Council unanimously approved the City’s Annual Report on our response to the Seven Youth Inquest. Here are some of our efforts so far:

  • The City continues to take part in orientation events for students who are new to Thunder Bay and is planning for the September 2017 semester. We are meeting with the education sector to work together on ideas (Recommendation 49).
  • Under Council’s leadership, we are working on requests for help with student living centres for Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School and Matawa Learning Centre (Recommendation 60).
  • The City sent a letter of intent to Public Safety Canada for a Youth Inclusion Program. This will address youth safety, youth crime prevention, and youth well-being. It will focus on the right kind of supports and mentorship opportunities for Indigenous youth going to school in Thunder Bay (Recommendation 75).
  • The City has enhanced support from the Aboriginal Liaison Office to our partners helping families and the community when the missing person protocol is activated (Recommendation 91).
  • We held a Youth Partners Forum in January 2017 to explore how to best coordinate
    city-wide youth recreation programming (Recommendations 100, 105, 107).
  • The City launched a “Youth Opportunities TBay” Facebook page in February 2017. There, community groups can share opportunities and supports for youth (Recommendation 100).
  • We met with partners to promote P.R.O. Kids, which opens up opportunities to take part in City and community programs. This resulted in more applications (Recommendation 104).
  • The City approved a grant in January 2017 for a sports equipment lending library, hosted by Matawa Learning Centre. This will be open to all First Nations youth going to school in Thunder Bay (Recommendation 107).
  • We are reviewing our processes for hiring youth. We are also looking at ways we might improve the City’s Aboriginal cultural sensitivity training (Recommendation 109).
  • We will be posting the City’s Declaration of Commitment to Urban Aboriginal People in all City buildings this summer (Recommendation 111).
  • We have created an anti-racism resources section on the City’s website at www.thunderbay.ca/antiracism (Recommendation 112).
  • On June 27, we are launching Incident Reporting. This is a partnership between the City of Thunder Bay’s Anti-Racism & Respect Committee and Diversity Thunder Bay. People who experience or witness racism will be able to tell their story and be referred to resources for support (Recommendation 112).
  • The City has conducted training and audits of watercourse and river areas where we know youth frequently go (Recommendation 115).
  • City Council has approved a First Nation Secondary School Transit Pass pilot program for the
    2017-2018 school year. This is a subsidized pass, meant to help students from the north overcome barriers getting to and from school, City programs, and recreational opportunities (Recommendations 78, 102).
  • The City’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee has met with various federal and provincial ministers to talk about the funding we need to support our Indigenous residents (Recommendation 120).

 

City of Thunder Bay's implementation of recommendations: