February 25, 2017

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Jordan Wabasse’s Family reacts to Verdict of the First Nation Youth Inquest

Jordan Wabasse’s Family reacts to Verdict of the First Nation Youth Inquest

THUNDER BAY, ON: Jordan Wabasse’s family welcomes the recommendations the jury released today.

Jordan’s parents Bernice and Derek Jacob are glad that the recommendations strongly stated that both

on and off reserve students deserve equity in education and that funding should not be determined

based on their residence but on needs. Bernice and Derek believe that now that the inquest is over,

the real work of implementing the recommendations needs to start.

The inquest heard evidence about how First Nation families often cannot afford to move off-reserve

for school attendance. The inquest also heard that funding was insufficient and excluded First Nation

students whose parents leave reserves to provide safe households in the city. Bernice explained that

“it is not easy for families to just move away from home to stay with their kids while they attend

school. It is too costly.” Derek added “that is why we are glad the jury recommended early childhood

education, elementary school, high school facilities and resources in First Nation communities. These

are valuable recommendations that can increase our children’s success if they are implemented.”

Derek noted that there are risks to moving a whole family to a city for a high school student. He said

“sometimes you cannot find the same job in a city that you have been doing on the reserve. First

Nation people are sometimes even denied housing or job opportunities because of their race.”

Bernice added, “Not all Aboriginal people fit the stereotypes that are assumed about First Nation

people from reserves. Many of us do well in our communities and we want to keep building

communities with strong youth that have real opportunities. Leaving our families, culture, language

and traditional ways is not a good option”

Bernice said “our family participated in the inquest because we did not want any other family to go

through what we went through. Some communities do not even have a high school and no choice but

to send their children away for school. We have kept our younger sons home but at the cost of

improving their learning opportunities.” She added that “When Jordan was missing for so long, we

were hopeful. When his body was found, we lost our son and his bright future but everyone else lost

the opportunity to learn from our son a love for hockey, love for nature, love for hunting and our

family lost the knowledge he could pass on to his younger brothers and other community members.

No family should have to feel this type of loss. No family should have to send young teenagers away

from home for education—that is why it is so important that the recommendations the jury made

about education in First Nation communities are actually put into place.”

For more information please contact:

Christa Big Canoe, Legal Advocacy Director – Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto (416) 408-4041 x 225 or 647-227-4392 or by

email canoecd@lao.on.ca

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MUSKRAT Magazine

MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

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