• AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Welcomes Thunder Bay Inquest Recommendations; Renews Call to Strengthen Support for First Nations Youth
Jun 30, 2016
(Ottawa, ON):  Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde supports calls for federal and provincial action on the 145 recommendations of the Thunder Bay inquest concerning the lives of seven First Nations youth, who died tragically after leaving their remote reserve communities to attend school.

“The Thunder Bay inquest has produced a solid list of recommendations and now it is up to all of us to ensure that these recommendations are fulfilled,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Education is a Treaty right and a fundamental human right. No young person should be hindered in pursuing their education.  I lift up the families who participated in this process in spite of their pain and I thank the regional First Nations leadership and citizens for their valuable input. We must act now in the interests of our children.”

The 145 recommendations issued yesterday include calls for resources to close the gap in education, improving living conditions on reserves, support for First Nations children and families, and support for the Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The report clearly indicates that public support is urgently needed for First Nations children living on reserve whose schools are often woefully inadequate or non-existent, forcing many to relocate to distant urban centres to further their education.

“These recommendations will inform the relationship between First Nation families and municipalities not only in Thunder Bay but across the province. The findings are crucial to understanding the underlying issues that our youth are faced with when attending school in urban centres,” said AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “One of the key recommendations is the importance of maintaining culture and familial ties which is the same recommendation that we heard in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. It is our youth who will build a new era of reconciliation and move the priorities forward. Our Chief’s Conference theme this year is Youth Inspired Action for a Strong Future. We will not tolerate losing any more of our children.”

The AFN stands in solidarity with the families and friends of Jethro Anderson, Curran Strang, Paul Panacheese, Robyn Harper, Reggie Bushie, Kyle Morriseau and Jordan Wabasse among other First Nations youth who are regularly subjected to racial discrimination and oppression due to their indigenous identity across the country. We must work together to ensure these tragedies are never repeated.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

For more information please contact:

Jenn Jefferys, AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext. 110 or jjefferys@afn.ca  
Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca