Councillors Regret Skipping Inquest Hearings

Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 17:30 PM

Some city councillors are hanging their heads in shame.  

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum criticized council Monday night for not attending the inquest into First Nation student deaths.  

She says the inquest involved the city, and council should have been in the courtroom to show that they care about the lives of the seven students discussed in the hearings.  

McKellar Councillor Paul Pugh says in legal situations like the inquest, city lawyers advise councillors to stay out of the courtroom.  He admits he's sorry he wasn't there, and says he should have been at the inquest.  

That explanation isn't sitting well with Achneepineskum, who says legal advice shouldn't have stopped councillors from showing up. 

She emphasized that council has a responsibility to make sure no more students' lives are lost.  

Councillor Rebecca Johnson says while she never attended in person, she didn't ignore the inquest.  She says she stayed informed by watching the online broadcast of the proceedings. 

Northwood Councillor Shelby Ch'ng says she regrets watching the inquest from the sidelines, and apologized to Achneepineskum and other representatives through tears. 

Ch'ng says it's time the city took on more of the responsibility for taking care of First Nation youth. (File Photo)