Transcript: Racism and Death in Thunder Bay | Dec 13, 2017

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and checked blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Racism and death in Thunder Bay. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says IN JUST OVER A DECADE,
SEVEN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO WERE FOUND
DEAD.
THEY WERE INDIGENOUS TEENS,
HUNDREDS OF MILES FROM HOME IN
SEARCH OF AN EDUCATION THAT MOST
KIDS IN ONTARIO DON'T HAVE TO
LEAVE THEIR COMMUNITIES FOR.
JOURNALIST TANYA TALAGA TELLS
THEIR STORIES IN HER NEW BOOK,
"SEVEN FALLEN FEATHERS: RACISM,
DEATH, AND HARD TRUTHS IN A NORTHERN CITY."
IT WAS A FINALIST FOR THE 2017
HILARY WESTON WRITERS' TRUST
PRIZE FOR NONFICTION, AND WE'RE
PLEASED TO WELCOME THE ATKINSON
FOUNDATION FELLOW FOR 2017-18,
TANYA TALAGA, TO OUR STUDIO TONIGHT.

Tanya is in her mid-forties, with long wavy brown hair. She's wearing a blue blouse.
A picture of her book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a colourful drawing of indigenous people forming a circle.

Steve continues SO GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

Tanya says THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Steve says THIS IS A GREAT BOOK.
I TOLD YOU I READ IT MANY MONTHS
AGO, AND, MY GOODNESS, IT'S A
SAD, SAD BOOK BUT IT'S A VERY
IMPORTANT READ.
SO LET'S GET TO THIS.
HOW DID YOU WIND UP, UP IN
NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO
INVESTIGATING THE SEVEN DEATHS
OF THESE YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE
FIRST PLACE?

The caption changes to "Tanya Talaga. Author, 'Seven fallen feathers.'"
Then, it changes again to "Investigating a tragedy."

Tanya says IT'S A STORY IN ITSELF.
I WENT UP THERE TO COVER THE
FEDERAL ELECTION.
I WAS A PROVINCIAL REPORTER AT
THE TIME WITH
THE TORONTO STAR,
AND THE FEDERAL ELECTION WAS IN
FULL SWING AND I WANTED TO GET
INTO THE ACTION.
AND SO I PITCHED TO MY EDITORS A
STORY ON WHY IT IS THAT
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE DON'T VOTE.
THIS WAS, AGAIN, IN 2011, SO IT
WAS STEPHEN HARPER VERSUS JACK
LAYTON, AND THIS WAS ALSO TOO
BEFORE THE TRC HAD MADE ITS
REPORT, THIS IS BEFORE SOCIAL
MEDIA WAS REALLY SORT OF
PERVASIVE CONSIDERING INDIGENOUS
NEWS AND INDIGENOUS POLITICS,
AND SO I WENT UP THERE TO DO A
STORY ON WHY IT IS INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE JUST AREN'T VOTING.
I KNEW THE ANSWER AS TO WHY.
ONE OF THOSE ANSWERS BEING THAT
FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE DID NOT
HAVE THE VOTE UNTIL 1960.
BUT MY EDITOR THOUGHT, WOW, THIS
IS A GREAT IDEA.
IT SOUNDS EXOTIC.
SO WHY DON'T YOU GO UP AND DO
THE STORY?
SO I DID.
AND I WENT TO THUNDER BAY TO
SPEAK TO STAN BARRITY.
HE USED TO BE THE GRAND CHIEF OF
ANISHINAABE NATION WHICH IS A
TERRITORY WHICH IS QUITE LARGE.
IT HAS 49 FIRST NATIONS IN AN
AREA ROUGHLY THE SIZE OF FRANCE
STRETCHING FROM NORTH OF THUNDER
BAY TO JAMES BAY, NORTH TO
HUDSON'S BAY AND WEST TO
MANITOBA.

Steve says MASSIVE.
JUST MASSIVE.

The caption changes to "Tanya Talaga, @TanyaTalaga."

Tanya says IT'S A HUGE, HUGE TERRITORY.
ABOUT 45,000 PEOPLE LIVE THERE.
AND SO... AND IT GOES OVER TWO
RIDINGS AS WELL.
AND SO I WENT UP THERE TO TALK
TO HIM AND SAY, YOU KNOW, WHAT'S
HAPPENING?
WHY IS IT THAT INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
AREN'T VOTING?
AND AS SOON AS WE SAT DOWN AND I
ASKED THAT QUESTION, HE LOOKED
AT ME AND SAID, WHY AREN'T YOU
DOING A STORE ON JORDAN WABASSE?
I THOUGHT MAYBE HE WASN'T
HEARING ME.
SO I REPEATED MY QUESTION.
AND THEN HE SAID TO ME, YOU
KNOW, JORDAN HAS BEEN MISSING
FOR 70 DAYS.
AND WE WENT BACK AND FORTH LIKE
THAT FOR A WHILE.
I'M GOING TO SAY ABOUT TEN
MINUTES OR SO, YOU KNOW, ME
ASKING ABOUT THE ELECTION, HIM
TALKING ABOUT JORDAN, AND I
REALIZED THAT I WAS NOT GOING TO
GET MY QUESTIONS ANSWERED, AND I
ALSO REALIZED THAT I WAS SITTING
IN THE PRESENCE OF A GRAND CHIEF
WHO WAS TRYING TO TELL ME
SOMETHING AND I WASN'T LISTENING
TO HIM.
SO...

Steve says HE HAD A BIGGER
MISSION.

Tanya says HE DID.
HE DID.
AND SO I SORT OF PUT THE KIND OF
CRAZY TORONTO JOURNALIST ASIDE,
AND I LISTENED TO HIM.
AND THEN HE TOLD ME THAT JORDAN
WAS THE SEVENTH STUDENT TO GO
MISSING OR TO DIE WHILE AT
SCHOOL IN THUNDER BAY SINCE
2000.
AND I NEVER HANDED HIM THAT
STORY ON THE 2011... HANDED IN
THAT STORY ON THE 2011 ELECTION.

Steve says KNOWING SOMETIMES
HOW NEWSPAPER EDITORS CAN BE AND
WHEN YOU CALLED THE STAR TO SAY
I KNOW YOU SENT ME TO DO THIS
STORY BUT THIS IS THE STORY WE
REALLY NEED TO FOLLOW, WHAT WAS
THE REACTION?

Tanya says YOU KNOW, THE REACTION WAS
REALLY, REALLY GOOD.
THEY COULDN'T BELIEVE IT EITHER.
THE THING I COULDN'T UNDERSTAND
IS WHY IS IT THAT SEVEN KIDS...
AT THAT POINT JORDAN HAD NOT
BEEN FOUND.
BUT WHY WAS IT THAT SEVEN KIDS
HAD GONE MISSING OR TO DIE IN
THUNDER BAY SINCE 2000, WHY
WASN'T THAT MAKING NATIONAL
NEWS?
I MEAN, WHY WASN'T I SEEING NEWS
TRUCKS UP THERE?
WHY WASN'T THIS ALL OVER THE
FRONT PAGE OF THE GLOBE AND MAIL
AND EVERY OTHER NEWSPAPER?

Steve says BECAUSE IF IT
HAPPENED IN TORONTO OR MONTREAL
OR VANCOUVER, YOU CAN BET IT
WOULD HAVE BEEN FRONT PAGE NEWS.

Tanya says THAT'S RIGHT, THAT'S RIGHT.
SO MY EDITORS WERE, YOU KNOW
WHAT?
THAT'S A REALLY GOOD STORY.
DO IT.
AND SO I DID.
AND WE PLAYED IT RIGHT.
WE PUT IT ON THE FRONT PAGE THAT
DAY.
IT WAS IN MAY THAT THE STORY
CAME OUT, 2011, AND WE HAD A
PICTURE AS WELL OF ONE OF THE
TEACHERS FROM THE SCHOOL BECAUSE
STAN DROPPED ME OFF AT DEP NICE
FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL WHERE SIX
OF THE SEVEN KIDS WENT TO
SCHOOL, AND SORT OF DROPPED ME
OFF AT THE PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE
AND SAID, HERE, THIS IS TANYA.
TELL HER THE STORY.

Steve says AND WITH THAT ENTRE,
OFF TO THE RACES YOU WERE.

Tanya says YEAH.

Steve says YOU MENTIONED DENNIS
FRANKLIN CROMARDY HIGH SCHOOL,
WHICH HAS A CONTROVERSIAL ROLE
IN ALL OF THIS.
DO YOU WANT TO TELL US A LITTLE
BIT MORE ABOUT THIS SCHOOL?

Tanya says WELL, IT WAS OPENED IN 2000,
OCTOBER OF 2000.
AND WHEN THE SCHOOL OPENED, THE
SCHOOL WAS IN AN OLD BUILDING
THAT THE CITY WASN'T USING
ANYMORE AND THE LOCAL... THE
LOCAL LAKEHEAD SCHOOL BOARD
WASN'T USING ANYMORE.
SO THEY BOUGHT IT.
NORTHERN ANISHINAABE EDUCATION
COUNCIL TO RUN AS A HIGH SCHOOL
THERE.
BECAUSE THERE ARE NO HIGH
SCHOOLS IN THE COMMUNITIES, NO
PROPER HIGH SCHOOLS FOR THE KIDS
TO GO TO.
SO IF THEY WANT A HIGH SCHOOL
EDUCATION, THEY HAVE TO TRAVEL
TO EITHER SIOUX LOOKOUT OR
THUNDER BAY.
THEY HAVE TO GO 500 OR 600
KILOMETRES AWAY.
THEY HAVE TO TAKE A SMALL PLANE.
A LOT OF THESE COMMUNITIES ARE
REMOTE, THEY'RE FLY-IN.
THEY ALSO ARE SO SMALL, 3,000
PEOPLE, THERE ARE NO TRAFFIC
LIGHTS IN THESE COMMUNITIES.
OFTENTIMES THERE'S NO BOILING...
THERE'S NO WATER THAT YOU CAN
DRINK.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

Steve says SO BIG-TIME CULTURE
SHOCK LEAVING THE RESERVES TO
COME TO SCHOOL IN THE MIDDLE OF
A CITY.

Tanya says THAT'S RIGHT.
AND MANY OF THE KIDS ALSO SPOKE
IN THEIR LANGUAGE.
SO WHEN THEY'RE COMING INTO
THUNDER BAY, THEY'RE SPEAKING
AND FUNCTIONING IN ENGLISH AS
WELL.

Steve says ON THE ONE HAND A
SCHOOL WHERE INDIGENOUS KIDS CAN
GO AND BE IN THE MAJORITY AND
NOT FEEL, YOU KNOW, OUT OF
SORTS; BUT ON THE OTHER HAND,
VERY OUT OF SORTS BECAUSE
THEY'RE SO FAR OUT OF THEIR
CULTURE ZONE, IT'S NOT FUNNY.
HOW DOES EVERYBODY HANDLE ALL THAT?

The caption changes to "The students."

Tanya says THE SCHOOL IS ACTUALLY REALLY
SPECIAL, QUITE INCREDIBLE PLACE.
AND EVERYONE THAT WORKS IN THE
SCHOOL, THEY ARE ALL... THEY'RE
NOT JUST TEACHERS, THEY'RE
SURROGATE PARENTS FOR EVERY
SINGLE CHILD THAT GOES THERE.
THE KIDS ARE FED, THEY HAVE
THEIR BREAKFAST THERE, THEY HAVE
THEIR DINNER THERE.
THERE'S AN ELDER ON STAFF.
THERE'S A NURSE PRACTITIONER.
EVERYONE ON STAFF REALLY GOES
ABOVE AND BEYOND TO MAKE SURE
THE KIDS ARE SAFE AND EVERYONE
THERE ALSO KNOWS WHAT'S
HAPPENED.
WHEN THE SCHOOL OPENED IN 2000,
NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED THAT
WITHIN ONE MONTH OF THE SCHOOL
OPENING, THEY WOULD LOSE ONE OF
THEIR STUDENTS, JETHRO ANDERSON,
AND HE HAD JUST TURNED 15.
HE WAS IN GRADE 9.

Steve says YOUR BOOK'S CALLED
SEVEN FALLEN FEATHERS, A
REFERENCE TO THE SEVEN STUDENTS
WHO DISAPPEARED AND WERE
EVENTUALLY FOUND TO BE DEAD.
YOU KNOW, IT'S ENOUGH FOR ONE
SCHOOL IN A CITY OF TWO AND A
HALF MILLION PEOPLE LIKE TORONTO
TO GO MISSING AND TO HAVE THAT
BE, YOU KNOW, THAT WOULD PUT A
SCHOOL IN CRISIS, TO HAVE ONE
SCHOOL... ONE STUDENT GO
MISSING.
SEVEN.
IN ONE SCHOOL.
HOW DO THEY DEAL WITH THAT?

The caption changes to "Tanya Talaga. Atkinson Foundation Fellow."

Tanya says SIX IN THE ONE SCHOOL,
ANOTHER IN ANOTHER PART OF THUNDER BAY.
IT'S HARD.
I THINK THAT, UNLESS YOU'RE
LIVING IT, IT'S REALLY TOUGH TO
UNDERSTAND.
I'VE BEEN IN THE SCHOOL MANY,
MANY TIMES AND I'VE SPOKEN TO A
LOT OF THE KIDS THAT GO TO
SCHOOL THERE.
EVERY SINGLE CHILD THAT I SPEAK
TO HAS A STORY ABOUT RACISM.
AND IT'S NOT JUST SOMETHING
THAT'S HAPPENED TO THEIR FRIEND
OR SOMEONE THEY'VE HEARD OF,
IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S HAPPENED
TO THEM TOO.
THEY'LL TELL YOU STORIES ABOUT
WALKING TO SCHOOL AND HAVING
GARBAGE THROWN AT THEM OR BEING
CALLED NAMES AND BEING TOLD TO
GO BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM.
THIS IS LIKE A DAILY REALITY.
AND THE PEOPLE THAT WORK IN THE
SCHOOLS, THE TEACHERS, THE
SUPPORT STAFF, EVERYONE, THEY'RE
ALL FULLY AWARE OF WHAT THE KIDS
ARE LIVING THROUGH AND THE
CHANGES THAT THEY'RE HAVING
COMING FROM NORTHERN PLACES AND
BEING ALONE IN THE CITY IN A
BOARDING HOUSE COMING TO SCHOOL.
THEY HAVE TO DO THINGS LIKE...
THINGS WE WOULDN'T THINK OF IN
THE CITY.
THINGS LIKE, HOW DO YOU CROSS
THE STREET?
HOW DO YOU TAKE A BUS?
WHEN THE STUDENTS START AT
DENNIS FRANKLIN, THEY GET
PAMPHLETS AS PART OF THEIR
WELCOME PACKAGE THAT TALK ABOUT
HOW TO DO THESE THINGS.

Steve says BECAUSE THEY'VE
NEVER DONE THEM BEFORE.

Tanya says THAT'S RIGHT.
THEY'RE ALL NEW TO THEM.
THE TEACHERS ARE FULLY AWARE OF THIS.
THEY DO THINGS LIKE... THEY HAVE
VANS GOING AROUND AT NIGHTTIME
TO MAKE SURE ALL THE KIDS ARE
SAFE AND AT HOME.

Steve says ON OUR JUMBOTRON,
YOU CAN SEE THE COVER OF YOUR BOOK.
THERE'S BEAUTIFUL ARTWORK THERE.
WE'RE GOING TO ISOLATE SOME OF IT.
I'M GOING TO BRING YOU UP HERE
AND HAVE YOU DESCRIBE... CAN WE
BRING THAT UP, SHELDON?
I WANT YOU TO BASICALLY TELL US,
WHAT'S IN THIS PAINTING HERE?
WHAT SHOULD WE BE DRAWING OUR
EYES TOWARDS?

The cover painting appears on screen in close-up. It features several indigenous women in a circle looking at seven silhouettes travelling towards a sun with a cross in it.

Tanya says WELL, THE WHOLE PAINTING IS
REALLY A THING OF ABSOLUTE
BEAUTY.
WHEN YOU SEE IT FOR THE FIRST
TIME, WHEN I SAW IT FOR THE
FIRST TIME, IT TAKES YOUR BREATH
AWAY.
CHRISTIAN MORRISSEAU PAINTED
THIS PAINTING AND CHRISTIAN AND
THE FATHER OF KYLE MORRISSEAU,
AND HE'S ONE OF THE FALLEN SEVEN
FEATHERS.
CHRISTIAN PAINTED THIS AFTER THE
END OF THE INQUEST IN JUNE 2016
TO REMEMBER THE CHILDREN.
AND SO WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING AT
ARE ALL SEVEN OF THE FALLEN
FEATHERS.
AND WHY HE CALLS THE STUDENTS
THE SEVEN FALLEN FEATHERS IS
BECAUSE HE WAS REALLY SICK AND
TIRED OF LISTENING TO THE MEDIA
AND LISTENING TO JUST EVERYONE
REFER TO THEM AS THE SEVEN DEAD
STUDENTS.
HE SAID TO ME, YOU KNOW WHAT?
ALL OF THESE KIDS, THEY WERE
LOVED.
THEY HAD THEIR OWN IDENTITIES.
THEY'RE THEIR OWN PEOPLE.
AND IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT WE
REMEMBER THEM LIKE THAT.
IT WAS A FRIEND OF HIS THAT
SUGGESTED SEVEN FALLEN FEATHERS
AS THE TITLE OF HIS PAINTING AND
HE ADOPTED THAT AND HE GAVE ME
PERMISSION TO USE THE PAINTING
AND ALSO TO USE THE TITLE.
AND YOU CAN SEE ALONG AT THE
BOTTOM ALL SEVEN...

Steve says BACK UP, SHELDON, IF
YOU WOULD?
LET'S SEE IT AGAIN.
YOU DO SEE THE SEVEN ALONG THE
BOTTOM.

Tanya says YOU SEE THE ONE IN THE MIDDLE
IS WITH YELLOW ON HER SHOULDERS.
THAT'S ROBYN.
SHE WAS THE ONLY GIRL OUT OF THE
SEVEN.
AND THE ONE ON THE TOP RIGHT,
THE HIGHEST FIGURE, THAT IS
KYLE, HIS SON.
AND THIS IS A PICTURE OF THE
SEVEN FEATHERS GOING INTO THE
AFTER-LIFE.

Steve says LET'S DO AN EXCERPT
FROM INSIDE THE PAGES OF YOUR BOOK NOW.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Adapting to life in Thunder Bay." The quote reads "Students between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one were coming down to Thunder Bay, and for many of them, it would be the first time they'd live in a city or were far from their parents. The culture shock would be startling."
Quoted from Tanya Talaga, "Seven fallen feathers." 2017.

Steve says YOU'VE TOUCHED ON
THIS ALREADY, BUT TALK ABOUT HOW
WELL OR BADLY THEY ADAPTED TO
THESE INCREDIBLY NEW
CIRCUMSTANCES THEY FOUND
THEMSELVES IN.

Tanya says IT'S HARD, YOU KNOW?
IMAGINE.
I HAVE TWO TEENAGERS.
I CAN'T IMAGINE SENDING ONE OF
THEM SO FAR AWAY FROM ME TO
FUNCTION IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE TO
GO TO SCHOOL WITHOUT THEIR
PARENTS, YOU KNOW?
AND OFTEN TOO YOU HAVE TO THINK
OF, IN 2000, WHEN JETHRO WAS
THERE, THIS IS BEFORE THE ADVENT
OF CELL PHONES, BEFORE EVERY
CHILD CARRIED CELL PHONES.
I MEAN, THEY WERE STILL PRETTY
EXPENSIVE BACK THERE IN 2000.
AND ALL THESE KIDS TOO ARE
COMING FROM HOMES THAT HAVE
STRUGGLES.
SOME OF THE HOMES, THERE'S NOT
MUCH MONEY, YOU KNOW?
SO YOU'RE SENDING YOUR CHILDREN
DOWN TOO AND IT'S AN ISSUE IF
YOU NEED MONEY TO GO TO THE
MOVIES OR TO BUY ANOTHER WINTER
JACKET, THINGS LIKE THAT.
AND OFTEN YOU'VE GOT TO RELY ON
THE SCHOOL TO HELP OUT WITH
THOSE LITTLE THINGS.
AND OFTEN TOO IF YOU'RE A KID,
YOU DON'T ASK.
YOU DON'T ASK AND SAY, HEY, MY
COAT DOESN'T FIT ME ANYMORE.
AND LITTLE THINGS LIKE THAT THAT
YOU WOULD RELY ON A MOM OR DAD
WHEN YOU'RE AT HOME.
IT'S REALLY HARD WHEN YOU'RE SO
FAR AWAY.
AND AGAIN THEY'RE SURROUNDED BY
THINGS THEY NEVER SAW BEFORE.
A LOT OF THESE COMMUNITIES...
ALL OF THEM, THE ONLY STORES ARE
REALLY NORTHERN STORES.
NORTHERN STORES ARE SMALL
CATCH-ALL STORES THAT SELL
EVERYTHING FROM RUBBER BOOTS TO
HAM.
THAT'S THE ONLY STORE IN THE
COMMUNITY.
WHEN THEY GET TO THUNDER BAY,
IT'S LIKE EXOTIC.
EVERYTHING THERE... THERE ARE
THEATRES, THERE'S A BIG SHOPPING
MALL, A FOOD COURT.

Steve says YET THERE'S A LOT OF
HANGING OUT BY THE RIVER AS
WELL, WHICH IS NOT THE SHOPPING MALL.

Tanya says THERE IS.

Steve says WHAT WAS THE LURE OF THAT?

Tanya says YOU KNOW, IT'S INTERESTING...
WELL, THERE'S MANY REASONS FOR
THE LURE OF THE RIVER. RIVERS
ARE IN INDIGENOUS CULTURE ARE
VERY PROMINENT AND VERY IMPORTANT.
RIVERS CARRY WATER.
WATER IS LIFE.
RIVERS AND WATER SURROUND MOST
OF THE COMMUNITIES WHERE THE
KIDS COME FROM.
YOU KNOW, THEY SIT BY THE WATER.
THEY THINK OF HOME.
AND I'M GOING TO SAY TOO THAT
LOTS OF TEENAGERS LIKE TO PARTY
AWAY FROM ADULTS, RIGHT?
AND A GREAT SOCIAL EQUALIZER CAN
BE HANGING OUT BY THEMSELVES AT
THE RIVER.
I MEAN, THERE WERE NO OTHER
PLACES FOR THEM TO GO REALLY
TOO.
YOU KNOW, THERE WERE NO LARGE
CULTURAL CENTRES THAT THEY WERE
GOING TO HANG OUT TO PLAY VIDEO
GAMES AT, SO THE KIDS WOULD GET
TOGETHER AND THEY WOULD GO DOWN
BY THE WATER.
THAT'S KIND OF SCARY BECAUSE YOU
JUST DON'T KNOW WHO YOU'RE GOING
TO ENCOUNTER DOWN THERE.

Steve says LET'S START TO TELL
THAT STORY.
HOW DID THE STUDENTS ULTIMATELY
GO MISSING?

Tanya says WELL, THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION,
AND THANK YOU.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT CAME OUT
IN THE INQUEST THAT ALWAYS
STRUCK ME AS A CENTRAL POINT TO
THIS ENTIRE STORY WAS NO
EVIDENCE WAS GIVEN WHATSOEVER AS
TO HOW THE FIVE BOYS THAT DIED
IN THE WATER WOUND UP IN THE
WATER.
NONE WHATSOEVER.

Steve says AND WE STILL DON'T KNOW?

Tanya says THAT'S RIGHT.
SO THERE IS EVIDENCE ABOUT HOW
THEY DIED.
YOU KNOW, THE TOXICOLOGY REPORTS
ARE BACK.
THE CORONER'S REPORT CAN
INDICATE CERTAIN THINGS.
BUT THE CORONER'S REPORTS CAN'T
INDICATE HOW THE KIDS GOT INTO
THE WATER.

Steve says WHAT WAS THE MOST
FREQUENT CAUSE OF DEATH?

Tanya says DROWNING.
DROWNING.
BUT YOU'RE ALSO PULLING BODIES
FROM WATER THAT HAVE BEEN IN THE
WATER FOR A WEEK, TWO WEEKS, OR,
IN JORDAN'S CASE, LONGER.
MONTHS.
I MEAN, THERE'S NOT A LOT... THE
DEAD DO TELL THEIR OWN STORIES,
AND THERE ARE SOME MARKINGS AND
YOU CAN TELL SOME THINGS, BUT
YOU CAN'T TELL EVERYTHING.

Steve says CAN YOU TELL IF
ALCOHOL WAS INVOLVED?

The caption changes to "Lost youth."

Tanya says OH, YES, YES.
IN SOME OF THE DEATHS, THERE WAS
DEFINITELY ALCOHOL INVOLVED.
BUT, AGAIN, I GO BACK TO, HOW
DID THEY WIND UP IN THE WATER?
THERE IS NO... NO ONE WOULD GO
SWIMMING IN THUNDER BAY AT THE
END OF OCTOBER OR IN NOVEMBER.
THAT JUST DOESN'T HAPPEN.
AND I DON'T CARE IF YOU'RE
INTOXICATED OR NOT.
AND ALL OF THESE KIDS DO COME
FROM WATER COMMUNITIES.
I MEAN, THEY'RE SURROUNDED BY
WATER.
THEY'RE FAMILIAR WITH WATER.

Steve says THE ASSUMPTION IS
THERE HAD TO BE SOME FOUL PLAY
INVOLVED WHICH ENDED UP...

Tanya says SOMETHING HAPPENED.
SOMETHING HAPPENED.
AND THAT QUESTION REMAINS TO
THIS DAY.

Steve says DO YOU THINK WE'LL
EVER GET AN ANSWER TO THAT?

Tanya says I HOPE SO.
I HOPE SO.
YOU KNOW, THERE ARE THINGS THAT
ARE CHANGING.
THERE IS A BEAR CLAN PATROL OF
INDIGENOUS SEARCHERS THAT
MONITOR THE WATER NOW.
THEY WALK EVERY NIGHT TO SEE
WHAT'S HAPPENING.
THERE ARE SAFETY MEASURES THAT
I'M HOPING ARE GOING TO BE IN
PLACE VERY SOON.
LIGHTING AROUND THE WATER AND
AREAS.
AND I HOPE THAT THUNDER BAY IS
REALLY GOING THROUGH SOMETHING
RIGHT NOW.
YOU KNOW, WITH ALL THE REVIEWS
HAPPENING UP THERE AND THE HARD
LOOKS THAT ARE HAPPENING AS TO
WHY THIS IS OCCURRING IN THE
CITY, I'M REALLY HOPING THAT
THINGS WILL TURN AROUND BECAUSE
IT'S UNBELIEVABLE THAT CHILDREN
ARE ENDING UP IN THE WATER.

Steve says MORE ON THUNDER BAY
IN A SECOND.
I DO WANT TO HAVE YOU TELL US
HOW JETHRO ANDERSON'S MOTHER
FOUND OUT ABOUT HER SON'S DEMISE.

The caption changes to "Failing the families."

Tanya says HIS AUNT WAS HIS BOARDING
PARENT, DORA MORRIS.
LOVELY, AMAZING WOMAN.
ALL THE FAMILIES ARE SO STRONG.
AND JETHRO WAS LUCKY TO HAVE
DORA AS HIS BOARDING PARENT.
DORA IS HIS AUNT.
HER BROTHER IS HIS FATHER... WAS
HIS FATHER.
AND SHE CARED FOR HIM LIKE A
SON.
SHE OFTEN HAD HIM THROUGHOUT HIS
YOUNG LIFE, AND SO SHE LOVED HIM
VERY MUCH.
SHE HAD HER OWN CHILDREN WITH
HER HUSBAND TOM AND THEY LIVE ON
THE FORT WILLIAMS SIDE OF
THUNDER BAY.
AND HE DIDN'T COME HOME ONE
NIGHT.
IT WAS IN OCTOBER.
THE SCHOOL HAD JUST OPENED.
SO THIS IS IN 2000.
HE HAD JUST TURNED 15.
HE DIDN'T COME HOME, AND SO WHEN
SHE GOT HOME... BECAUSE SHE
WORKS AT A LODGE IN THUNDER
BAY... IT WAS AROUND 10:00.
SHE DOESN'T SEE JETHRO.
SHE ASKED HER SON NATHAN, WHERE
IS JETHRO?
AND HE'S LIKE, WELL, HE DIDN'T
COME HOME.
SO SHE GOT INTO HER CAR WITH HER
HUSBAND AND THEY STARTED TO
DRIVE UP AND DOWN THE STREETS OF
THUNDER BAY LOOKING FOR HIM.
AFTER A FEW HOURS OF THIS, IT
WAS WELL PAST MIDNIGHT, I THINK
IT WAS AROUND TWO OR THREE
O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING, SHE GOT
BACK HOME AND PHONED THE POLICE.
AND WHEN SHE CALLED THE POLICE,
WHOEVER ANSWERED THE PHONE TOLD
HER, OH, JUST DON'T WORRY ABOUT
IT.
HE'S PROBABLY OUT THERE PARTYING
LIKE ALL THE OTHER NATIVE KIDS.
AND THEN THE PHONE WAS HUNG UP.
SHE COULDN'T BELIEVE WHAT SHE
HAD JUST HEARD.
SHE GOT BACK IN HER VAN AND SHE
STARTED SEARCHING THE STREETS
AGAIN.
AND IT TOOK THE THUNDER BAY
POLICE SIX DAYS TO START LOOKING
FOR JETHRO ANDERSON, AND BY THAT
POINT, JETHRO'S MOM HAD COME
DOWN, LOTS OF PEOPLE, HER FAMILY
HAD COME DOWN, AND THEY WERE
SEARCHING. INDIGENOUS SEARCHERS
WERE OUT LOOKING FOR JETHRO AT
THAT POINT.

Steve says HERE'S... SHELDON,
I'M ON NUMBER 11 HERE. LET'S DO
THIS EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK.

Another quote from the book appears on screen, under the title "Adapting to life in Thunder Bay." The quote reads "An undercurrent of racism runs through Thunder Bay society. It can be subtle and insidious but it can also be in your face. Indigenous people have learned to silently put up with the abuse. When they complain to police, they are often not taken seriously or their claims are ignored."

Steve says CAN YOU TELL US
ABOUT WHAT CONCLUSIONS YOU CAME
TO ABOUT, WELL, A NUMBER OF
THINGS HERE.
LET'S START WITH THE THUNDER BAY
POLICE'S INVESTIGATION OF THESE EVENTS.

The caption changes to "Searching for answers."

Tanya says I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE
ALL OF THE INQUEST EXHIBITS AND
THE TESTIMONY OF THE INQUEST.
IT WAS 8 MONTHS LONG, 200
WITNESSES.
A REMARKABLE AMOUNT OF TESTIMONY
AND EXHIBITS TO GO THROUGH.
IT WAS REALLY INTERESTING TO SEE
THE TRAJECTORY OF THE
INVESTIGATIONS.
I'M THINKING ESPECIALLY TOO OF
JORDAN WABASSE, HIS BODY WAS
FOUND IN 2011, AND HE'S THE ONE
THAT STAN WAS TELLING ME ABOUT
IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND I
STARTED TO WRITE STORIES ABOUT
HIM.
I WAS REALLY SURPRISED, YOU
KNOW, SOMETIMES INTERVIEWS WITH
PEOPLE OF INTEREST WERE CARRIED
OUT AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN
QUESTIONING STOPPED.
THE POLICE NOTES JUST KIND OF
ENDED.
AND I DIDN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND
HOW THAT COULD BE.
AND THEN THERE WAS ALSO TOO SORT
OF THE THEORY OR THE WORKING
THEORY SEEMED TO BE THAT JORDAN
GOT OFF A PUBLIC BUS AT AROUND
10:00 AT NIGHT IN THE THUNDER
BAY FEBRUARY WEATHER OF, YOU
KNOW, minus 30, IT WAS minus 30 THAT
EVENING.
IT WAS VERY COLD OUT.
AND HE WAS DRESSED LIKE A
TEENAGER, YOU KNOW, WHICH MEANT
HE HAD PANTS ON, HE HAD ADIDAS
RUNNING SHOES ON, HE WAS WEARING
LIKE A HOODIE, YOU KNOW, AND A
JACKET OVERTOP, AND HE HAD A
BASEBALL CAP ON HIS HEAD.
YOU KNOW, THERE WAS NO THERMAL
UNDERWEAR...

Steve says NOT DRESSED FOR minus 30.

Tanya says EXACTLY.
HE LOOKED LIKE A TEENAGER.
SO HE GETS OFF THE BUS AND THE
THEORY WAS, THE WORKING THEORY,
THAT HE MANAGED TO GET FROM THE
BUS STOP, WHICH WAS A STONE'S
THROW ALMOST AWAY FROM HIS
BOARDING HOME, AND INSTEAD OF
GOING HOME, HE TOOK OFF TO THE
WATER AND WENT TO THE RIVER.
THAT'S QUITE A HIKE.
IT'S OVER 2 KILOMETRES.
ONE OF THE LAWYERS, SHE'S DRIVEN
THIS, I HAVE DRIVEN IT, AND IT'S
REALLY QUITE REMARKABLE FROM
WHERE HIS BODY WAS FOUND AND
WHERE HIS BOARDING HOME IS.
I CAN'T IMAGINE IN -30 WEATHER
JUST LEAVING THE BUS AND WINDING
UP THERE.

Steve says HIGHLY UNLIKELY HE
WOULD HAVE DONE THAT OF HIS OWN
VOLITION.

Tanya says RIGHT.
AND ALSO TOO, WHERE HE WAS FOUND
BY THE JAMES STREET SWING
BRIDGE, HE WOULD HAVE HAD TO GO
OVER ALL THESE ROCKS AS WELL TO
GET INTO THE WATER.
I MEAN, WHO WOULD DO THAT IN
FEBRUARY?

Steve says ONE DOESN'T WANT TO
TAR AN ENTIRE CITY WITH A BROAD
BRUSH, BUT THE QUESTION NEEDS TO
BE ASKED: BASED ON WHAT YOU'VE
DISCOVERED, DO YOU THINK THUNDER
BAY IS A RACIST CITY?

Tanya says I THINK THAT RACISM RUNS
THROUGH EVERY CITY.
I THINK THAT THAT'S TRUE.
I THINK THAT THERE HAS BEEN...
THERE ARE UNDERCURRENTS OF
SUBTLE RACISM THAT HAVE GONE
THROUGH CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR A
LONG, LONG TIME...

Steve says IS IT A BIGGER
PROBLEM THERE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE?

Tanya says YOU KNOW WHAT?
STATISTICALLY IT IS A BIGGER
PROBLEM THERE THAN ANYWHERE
ELSE.
IF YOU LOOK AT STATISTICS
CANADA'S LATEST REPORTS, IT SAYS IT HAS THE MOST HATE CRIMES OVER
ANY OTHER CITY.
I DO BELIEVE THAT TO BE TRUE.
WHEN YOU WALK INTO DENNIS
FRANKLIN SCHOOL OR DISCUSS WITH
ANY INDIGENOUS PERSON IN THUNDER
BAY WHAT THEIR EXPERIENCES ARE,
THEY'LL TELL YOU STORIES LIKE I
WAS TELLING YOU EARLIER ABOUT
THE STUDENTS HAVING GARBAGE
THROWN AT THEM, BEING CALLED
NAMES, BEING TOLD TO GO BACK
HOME.
I MEAN, THERE ARE FACEBOOK
POSTINGS OF OVERT RACISM.
THERE ARE... SADLY, THERE'S
ALSO... THAT'S BEEN PUBLICLY
SHARED.
NEWSPAPERS AS WELL.
YOU KNOW, THUNDER BAY HAS SO
MANY ISSUES AND PROBLEMS.
IT'S HAPPENED FOR SO LONG THERE.
IT'S ONLY NOW I THINK IN THE
LAST JUST LITTLE WHILE THAT
PEOPLE ARE FINALLY WAKING UP TO
WHAT'S BEEN GOING ON IN THUNDER
BAY.
YOU KNOW, THE STORY OF JETHRO
ANDERSON IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF
PEOPLE CALLING... INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE CALLING AND NOT HAVING
THEIR CALLS RETURNED OR BEING
TOLD SOMETHING UNTOWARD ON THE
PHONE.
AND IT'S NOT JUST WITH THE
STUDENTS TOO.
IT'S WITH OTHER THINGS AS WELL.
IT'S WITH ASSAULTS.
IT'S WITH MURDERED AND MISSING
INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS.
I'VE DONE A LOT OF WORK ON THAT
IN NORTHERN ONTARIO AS WELL.
THAT'S A FUNDAMENTAL COMPLAINT.
AND YOU CAN SEE THAT COMPLAINT
ACROSS CANADA TOO OF WHEN PEOPLE
CALL TO SAY "MY DAUGHTER'S
MISSING" OR "MY SISTER IS
MISSING," HOW THE CALLS ARE
HANDLED.
HISTORICALLY.
HISTORICALLY, THE CALLS HAVE NOT
BEEN HANDLED WELL.
NOT ALL CALLS, BUT...

Steve says I A FEW MINUTES LEFT
AND I WANT TO TACKLE A COUPLE OF
THINGS.
SHELDON, LET'S GO TO THE REPORT
CARD ON RECOMMENDATIONS BECAUSE
ABORIGINAL LEGAL SERVICES
REPRESENTING THE FAMILIES OF SIX
OF THE SEVEN INDIGENOUS VICTIMS,
A REPORT CARD ON HOW ALL THE
INSTITUTIONS PERFORMED, AND HERE
ARE THE GRADES.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "First Nations Youth Inquest. 2017 report card on recommendations."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA GOT A "D."
THE CITY OF THUNDER BAY A
C-PLUS, THE NATION GOT A C-PLUS,
THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO A
C-PLUS.
THE THUNDER BAY POLICE SERVICE A
B-PLUS.
NORTHERN ANISHINAABE FIRST NATION
AND THE HIGH SCHOOL GOT AN
A-MINUS.
THE REPORT ISSUED A GRADE OF
C-PLUS FOR PROGRESS OVERALL
EMERGING AFTER ALL OF THIS.
THE THING THAT REALLY STANDS OUT
IS THAT THE THUNDER BAY POLICE
SERVICE GOT A B-PLUS.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THAT?

The caption changes to "Being held accountable."

Tanya says IT'S AN INTERESTING GRADE
AND... THEY HAVE CHANGED THEIR
MISSING PERSONS PROTOCOL, WHICH
IS HUGE.
IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT THAT
HAPPEN.
THAT WHEN CALLS ARE MADE TO THE
POLICE ABOUT SOMEBODY WHO IS
MISSING, ESPECIALLY A STUDENT,
THAT THE POLICE RESPOND AND ACT.
THAT IS NOW DIFFERENT, VERY
DIFFERENT.
THEY HAVE REALLY STEPPED UP
THEIR GAME THAT WAY WITH PRESS
RELEASES AS WELL AND WITH GOING
OUT AND, YOU KNOW, EVEN TRYING
TO... TRYING TO MAKE FRIENDS,
YOU KNOW, BUILD BRIDGES WITH THE
INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY THERE.
SO I THINK THAT THAT'S PROBABLY
A REASON WHY THE B-PLUS GRADE.
THE OTHER GRADES ARE
INTERESTING.
ANISHINAABE NATION HAS I THINK
YOU SAID A C-PLUS.
IT'S HARD AS WELL FOR THEM TO DO
A LOT OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS
THAT NEED TO HAPPEN AS TO WHAT
THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO WITH
THE INQUEST BECAUSE THEY DON'T
GET THE CORRECT AMOUNT OF
FUNDING FROM THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT IN THE FIRST PLACE.
SO THEY'RE LIMITED AS TO WHAT
ACTUALLY THEY CAN POSSIBLY DO.
AND OF COURSE THE GOVERNMENT OF
CANADA GOT A D.
THAT'S ACTUALLY KIND OF
GENEROUS...

Steve says THAT SHOULD BE AN
"F," DO YOU THINK?

Tanya says YES.
AFTER THE INQUEST HAPPENED, A
LOT OF THE INFORMATION THAT CAME
FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA...
WE'LL SUPPORT YOU WITH THAT
RECOMMENDATION.
GREAT IDEA.
WE'LL SUPPORT YOU, WE'LL SUPPORT
YOU.
BUT WITHOUT THE PROPER
MECHANISMS BEHIND THAT SUPPORT,
FUNDING AND LEGISLATIVE, I MEAN,
THEY'RE ALL JUST STILL
RECOMMENDATIONS THAT SIT ON THE SHELF.

Steve says WHAT EFFECT DO YOU
THINK THE DEATHS, THE
INVESTIGATIONS, THE INCREASING
SCRUTINY... WHAT HAS IT ALL HAD
ON THE CITY OF THUNDER BAY?

The caption changes to "A city in crisis?"

Tanya says I THINK IT'S A GREAT
AWAKENING FOR THE CITY OF
THUNDER BAY.
I REALLY DO.
THERE IS RIGHT NOW THE MINISTRY
OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, AN
OFFSHOOT AGENCY IS UP THERE
LOOKING AT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN
THUNDER BAY.
THEY'RE LOOKING AT THE THUNDER
BAY POLICE FORCE FOR SYSTEMIC
RACISM.
SENATOR MURRAY SINCLAIR IS
INVESTIGATING THE THUNDER BAY
POLICE BOARD FOR THEIR FAILURE
TO POLICE THE THUNDER BAY
POLICE.
THESE ARE TWO MASSIVE
INVESTIGATIONS WHICH I THINK
ULTIMATELY IS GOING TO CHANGE
THE FACE OF JUSTICE IN THUNDER
BAY.
FRANK IACOBUCCI'S REPORT AS
WELL, JUSTICE IACOBUCCI'S
REPORT, ALSO HELPS TO CHANGE THE
FACE OF JUSTICE.
THAT'S A BIG PIECE OF THE
PUZZLE.

Steve says I THINK THAT'S THE
ONE THAT SUGGESTED, IF YOU'RE
GOING TO HAVE JUST JUSTICE,
THERE HAVE GOT TO BE MORE
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE ON JURIES, FOR
EXAMPLE.

Tanya says THAT'S RIGHT.
THAT'S 100 percent TRUE.
NOT JUST ON JURIES.
POLICE BOARDS HAVE TO HAVE
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE.
I MEAN, THERE'S NO INDIGENOUS
PERSON ON THE THUNDER BAY POLICE
BOARD.
THAT'S REMARKABLE.
YOU KNOW, JUST RECENTLY THEY
ADDED A POSITION, BUT THAT
ISN'T... IT'S MORE LIKE SOMEONE
WHO CAN OBSERVE.
THERE NEEDS TO BE INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE ON THE POLICE BOARDS.
THERE NEEDS TO BE INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE IN THE COUNCIL, THE CITY
COUNCIL AS WELL.
I MEAN, THERE'S GOING TO BE A
NEW MAYORAL RACE COMING UP.
WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT IF THAT
COUNCIL JUST STARTED TO REFLECT
A LITTLE BIT MORE THE FACES IN
THUNDER BAY.
THAT WOULD BE WONDERFUL.
SO I THINK IT'S GOING TO... I
THINK THUNDER BAY'S GOING
THROUGH A SEA CHANGE.

Steve says LOOK AT THE MONITOR
UP THERE.
WE'LL FINISH UP ON THIS.
THIS IS A PHOTO OF GRAND CHIEF
ELTON FIDDLER, AND HE IS
PRESENTING YOUR BOOK TO PRIME
MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU.

A picture shows a man in his forties handing Prime Minister Trudeau a book.

Steve continues YOUR BOOK HAS SHONE A LIGHT ON
WHAT HAS BEEN A TRULY
DEVASTATING SITUATION IN
NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO.
I GUESS THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
AND THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO,
GIVEN THE ATTENTION YOUR BOOK
HAS GOT, AND THERE IT IS IN THE
HANDS OF THE PRIME MINISTER.
THEY CAN NO LONGER SAY, WE
DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS.
SO I GUESS MY FINAL QUESTION IS:
HOW HOPEFUL ARE YOU THAT ALL OF
THIS ATTENTION IS GOING TO BRING
ABOUT SOME CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE?

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda."

Tanya says CHANGE IS GOING TO TAKE A
LONG TIME.
CHANGE MEANS MANY, MANY THINGS.
CHANGE MEANS JORDAN'S PRINCIPLE
HAS TO BE ENACTED THROUGHOUT
THIS COUNTRY.
AND JUST SO EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT
THAT IS, THAT MEANS BRINGING
EQUITY AND SERVICES TO ALL
INDIGENOUS CHILDREN LIVING ON
RESERVE.
SO THEY HAVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF
OPPORTUNITY AND SERVICES THAT
ALL OTHER CHILDREN DO ACROSS
CANADA.
THINGS LIKE HIGH SCHOOLS IN
COMMUNITIES THAT NEED THEM.
THIS BOOK TALKS ABOUT ALL OF
THOSE THINGS, AND IT ALSO SHOWS
THE REASONS WHY THE SEVEN FALLEN
FEATHERS SIDE, THERE'S SO MANY
PIECES TO IT AND SO MANY
EXPLANATIONS.
ALL OF THOSE THINGS PLAY A ROLE.
AND UNTIL CANADA ADDRESSES
EQUITY, WE WON'T BE AHEAD.

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81."

Steve says WELL, I HAVE TO SAY,
I THINK THERE'S A BETTER CHANCE
OF SOME OR ALL OF THOSE THINGS
HAPPENING GIVEN THAT YOU HAVE
SHONE THE LIGHT ON THIS AS YOU
HAVE IN THAT BOOK.
I TELL YOU, IT'S ONE OF THE
HARDEST BOOKS I'VE EVER READ IN
MY LIFE, BUT SO WORTH READING
AND I HOPE A LOT OF PEOPLE DO
BECAUSE YOU'VE DONE A GREAT JOB
HERE, I HAVE TO SAY.

Tanya says MIIGWECH.

Steve says TANYA TALAGA,
AUTHOR, "SEVEN FALLEN FEATHERS:
RACISM, DEATH, AND HARD TRUTHS
IN A NORTHERN CITY."
THANKS SO MUCH.

Tanya says THANK YOU.

Watch: Racism and Death in Thunder Bay