Seven kids either dead or missing in Thunder Bay

I found this article telling the very sad story of seven students in Thunder Bay, Ontario, who all disappeared or were found dead — six of them attending the same school. All of the kids were Native American (I think Canadians call them First Nation) and came from remote reservations. They didn’t have suitable high schools close to home so they went away to attend school in Thunder Bay and board with local families. From article:

A provincial coroner’s inquest into the October 2007 drowning of 15-year-old Reggie Bushie, which was scheduled for June 2009, has been delayed indefinitely because of legal arguments. […] Since Bushie’s death, Kyle Morrisseau, the grandson of famed Ojibway artist Norval Morrisseau was found dead in the McIntyre River floodway, Wabasse disappeared, and three of the other teens were eventually found drowned in the waters that feed into Lake Superior.

Robyn Harper died of asphyxiation in an alleged alcohol-related death. She was the only one not found in water. It is unclear of the circumstances that lead up to the deaths of most of the teens.

Six of the dead natives were students at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, which is administered by the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council and funded by the federal government.

The paper also provides a list of the missing/dead kids, going back to 2000. Actually, only one of them is listed as missing: a kid named Jordan Wabasse, last seen in February, who didn’t attend the same school as the other six.

I doubt there’s a serial killer preying on Native American teenagers in Thunder Bay, but it seems like they could do with some more supervision. Why not have a proper boarding school, with residence halls on campus? Better yet, why not provide halfway decent schools on the reservations themselves, instead of requiring these kids to travel hundreds of miles at a very vulnerable age just to get a basic high school diploma?

17 thoughts on “Seven kids either dead or missing in Thunder Bay

  1. Audrey May 12, 2011 / 12:21 am

    Jordan was found deceased in the Kaministiquia River yesterday, and identified today. 😦

  2. Laura Brown May 12, 2011 / 1:09 am

    From what I’ve read previously on this topic, the Canadian police are not very interested in investigating deaths or disappearances among the First Nations people. There *could* be a serial killer active among them, and the authorities wouldn’t notice for some time. There’s a similar problem with the attitude of American police to Native Americans. There was an interesting article about this in Harper’s a few months back — “Tiny Little Laws,” I think it was called.

  3. Ally May 12, 2011 / 5:10 am

    Having lived on an Indian Reservation in Wisconsin for 2 years (I’m Caucasian) I have to say that most of these deaths sound like misadventure. The kids on the reservation often don’t take much care in looking out for one another and there isn’t much supervision. Numerous times over the 2 winters I was there kids would go out drinking in a group and if one passed out heading home the rest would just leave him or her to die of hypothermia. Kids that leave isolated reservations end up being quite depressed as they are homesick. Most try to go to school or college elsewhere and then just give up and return home.It is really hard for them to assimilate. Those that hang in there away from home often end up with substance abuse problems sad to say.My 2 years on the reservation was really an eye opener as it’s like a small different society within the larger world. Native Americans face major prejudice in those towns that border reservations and also in the big cities.

    • Meaghan May 12, 2011 / 11:09 am

      My brother got in a similar situation — at 14 he drank half a bottle of vodka, wandered into a cornfield and passed out on Halloween, when temperatures dipped below freezing. HIS friends, however, told someone, and eventually the police were informed and they found my brother, using dogs, before he froze to death.

  4. Princess Shantae May 12, 2011 / 10:29 am

    Very bad situation all around. They used to have boarding schools for First Nation kids that they had to leave their reservations and go to to learn “white” ways, and a lot of damage was done by the whole system so that’s probably why they don’t do that anymore. But they do need to have better schools closer to where they live, and they definitely need a lot more adult guidance when they do leave home. Sad to say alcohol and drugs are big big big problems for First Nation people and with American Indians too.

  5. Dawn May 27, 2011 / 9:29 pm

    well seeing as how first nations are not cared about,they could care less about what they do or how they are able to live in thunder bay or anywhere else for that matter. Even when Jordan Wabasse (deceased) was found the police inclined and i quote “we are believed there was no foul play was involved” even though the case was closed and no longer investigated,there is more to the story of every missing teen. If there were more adults and supervisors who would want to do something about this,if they were willing to speak up then this wouldn’t be happening but its like 50 years ago residential school system is pretty much what DFC is. R.I.P Jordan Wabasse and all the other teens ,you will be greatly missed. 😦

  6. Donta July 8, 2011 / 12:55 pm

    People need to get facts straight, a lot is done for First Nations Here in Canada, the fact is it is too costly to run and build up in the northern communities, some of which are only accessible for a few months of the year by car, the rest has to be flown in by plane.
    First Nations peoples in Canada are given, both completely free tuition even through university. And college. And are tax free. People do care about them, and Canada try’s its best to repay the dept. that are ancestors accumulated. These people are responsible for their own lives and if they go out drinking and smoking drugs, which many both white and native Americans do. Then they have to be held accountable for their own actions.

  7. shawna July 22, 2011 / 3:51 pm

    Maybe you should be added to the list of people who need to get “the facts” straight. We are not given completely free tuition through university or college. Each band is allotted money to go for tuition usage (they are never given enough to send all the people who want to go). I never got funding for my schooling purposes, I had to pay for my education like many do, so dont say “we” have it free. As for tax-free, you are only tax free if you work on a reserve…otherwise “we” pay taxes just like everyone else.
    Now lets be realistic about this. If these “incidents” were happening “white” highschool students, and 6 of them were found drowned, we all know it would be taken more seriously, and investigations would last longer (whether alcohol was involved or not).
    I agree that people are responsibile for their own actions while drinking or doing drugs. But you also have to take in mind these are still kids…and kids experiment, and when u experiment and are still young, the responsible things to do diminish.
    My heart goes out to all the families that have had/have to endure these tragedies. Miigwetch

  8. ann October 22, 2011 / 8:53 am

    I like what you’re saying Shawna. My heart goes out to these families too. What an incredible tragedy.

  9. Cherish November 5, 2011 / 4:33 am

    Too costly to run and build up in the northern communities because why one may have to fly a plan in??? Are you kidding me, I don’t even know how one can say such a thing when Canada gave Haiti Billions of dollars to rebuild,Shame Shame for not taking care of what needs to be right here in our own country, I haven’t a problem with sending money to help other countries but not when we fail and neglect our own,it makes me ashamed and my heart goes out to the families of this horrible tragedy.

  10. Cherish November 5, 2011 / 4:35 am

    “plane” not “plan”

  11. Breaking the silence December 1, 2011 / 11:43 am

    Look again I have counted 9 so far in 20 years, all first nations.


    young adult from the Fort William First Nation went missing in 1990 and found in the McIntyre River. Police pronounced it as a downing.

    Sandra Kaye Johnson , 18

    Sandra Kaye Johnson – February 14, 1992 – Age 18 – Murdered – Thunder Bay- The case goes back to 1992, when a young Thunder Bay woman was found dead in the East end. And although no leads have surfaced within the last few years, detectives today are convinced someone holds the answer to this unsolved case.
    Almost fifteen years have passed since the body of 18-year-old Sandra Kaye Johnson was found. It was February and the young woman’s body was found frozen naked and face down in the icy surface of the Neebing McIntyre Floodway.


    The teen from the Kasabonika Lake First Nation, 400 km north of Sioux Lookout, drowned in the McIntyre River on Nov. 11, 2000.


    Came from the Mishkeegogamang First Nation, 350 km northwest of Thunder Bay. Died Nov. 11, 2006; published reports say his death was drug-related.


    Died Sept., 22, 2005, his body was found four days later in the McIntyre floodway. Strang was from Pikangikum First Nation.


    Keewaywin First Nation girl asphyxiated on Jan., 13, 2007. Keewaywin is 300 km northwest of Sioux Lookout.


    The Grade 9 student was found in the McIntyre River seven days after he was last seen alive on the river bank. Bushie was from Poplar Hill First Nation, 120 km north of Red Lake. His body was found Nov. 1, 2007.


    Grandson of the famous native artist Norval Morrisseau and member of Keewaywin First Nation. His body was found in the McIntyre River on Nov. 10, 2009.


    Missing. Last seen Feb. 7, 2011 at 10:30 p.m. getting off a Thunder Bay transit bus on Mary Street. Found later flooding in the McIntyre River in 2011.

  12. Antonio tj Suggashie March 3, 2012 / 5:46 pm

    Hey I’m kinda going there for school and I’ll be living there with my brother and his little family

  13. Chris Klauke June 1, 2012 / 9:03 am

    good to see the government is finally doing a inquest to what happened to these kids.

  14. Jeanne June 1, 2012 / 9:40 am

    You should do some more research about aboriginals in Thunder Bay going missing and most have been found dead in the same river….please dont discount the fact that there may not have a serial killer on our hands….my family have been fighting for over 20 yrs with city police about my cousin questionable drowning and still woukd not do anything even when it stared back up in 2000. It has been going on for approx 21 yrs. Please research more and everyone who has been effected demand police to do something. this is not indian kids going wrong and making bad decisions…this is alot of our children dying and they are all questionable….there is 10 or 11 in total over 21 years.

  15. katelyn jefford October 21, 2013 / 3:00 pm

    This is so stupid why kill people especially in cold blood or at all actually but seriouslyif I ever meet someone who has killed some one on purpose I will personally open a extra gigantic jumbo sized can of whoop @$$o n them

  16. L K Tucker August 29, 2014 / 12:13 am

    The problem is a little known feature of everyone’s physiology discovered to cause mental breaks for office workers. The use of alcohol is one way to self medicate for depression from Subliminal Distraction.

    After 12 years research I can produce depression for anyone who can suppress the vision startle reflex with an experiment. Do you know anyone in mental health research or mental health treatment services who can produce psychiatric symptoms in a few days with an experiment?

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