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THUNDER BAY, ON: Pursuant to the Office of the Chief Coroner’s recommendations for annual reporting on follow-up, the Matawa Learning Centre (MLC) today released their report entitled ‘MLC 1st Annual Report on Follow-Up to Jury Recommendations from the Inquest into the Deaths of Seven First Nations Youth.’

MLC has designed a program to better meet the mental health, cultural, special education, recreational needs and Treaty, and human rights of the students. It was designed was based on engagement with students, parents, leadership, communities, service providers. Over the past year, MLC has been active in meetings and discussions based on the Jury Recommendations resulting from the First Nations Youth Inquest.

The annual report highlights that MLC wishes to be in a position to implement twenty-three (23) of the twenty-four (24) recommendations (or a somewhat revised version of the recommendations) that were directed to MLC. The annual report also confirms that MLC has taken or is taking all of the steps that it can to implement those twenty-three (23) recommendations and has implemented or is in the process of implementing sixteen (16) of the twenty-three (23) recommendations. Perhaps most importantly, the annual report highlights that in the absence of significant, additional resources from Canada, MLC cannot fully implement ten (10) of the twenty-three (23) recommendations. Discussions with Canada are ongoing and MLC hopes to be in a position to report in its 2nd annual report that significant, additional resources have been and will continue to be forthcoming from Canada so that all twenty-three (23) recommendations have been achieved or will be achieved.

“Overall, our 1st annual report to the inquest recommendations draws attention to the need for immediate, short-term and long-term funding for the Matawa Learning Centre,” said Matawa First Nations Management CEO David Paul Achneepineskum. “Having found that the Matawa Learning Centre’s progress towards implementing the jury’s recommendations has been slow and marked by findings of being unresolved due to lack of resources—we are left with the conclusion that more work needs to be done to improve the safety and academic success of Indigenous youth attending high school in Thunder Bay from the Matawa communities.”

“As one of five (1 of 5) First Nations in Matawa without a high school in my community—Neskantaga First Nation entrusts the education of our youth to the Matawa Learning Centre. They know what Indigenous youth need to succeed in high school and they approach education in a different way and, at a closer level, by supporting families and the community in which a young person is from. This is what the parties at the table, including both levels of government, needs to support in order to prevent similar deaths of Indigenous youth in the future,” said Chief Wayne Moonias of Neskantaga First Nation.

“It is my hope and dream that Canada and Ontario will soon be announcing investments in our students to ensure their education, health, well-being and safety,” said Sharon Nate, Matawa Education department manager.

MLC will meet tomorrow to discuss the 1st annual report, and other matters, with the joint Political Table which brings all parties of the inquest together for high level discussions.

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