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Four dead in Mishkeegogamang fire - Community seeking donations

Tuesday February 18, 2014

Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS) have confirmed that four people have died in a residential fire in Mishkeegogamang First Nation.
The fire occurred at about 3 a.m. on Feb. 13.

The incident is now under investigation as part of a joint operation between NAPS North West Region Crime Unit, the Ontario Provincial Police Forensic Identification Services, and the Ontario Fire Marshal Emergency Management Fire Investigation Services.

The post-mortem examinations are to be conducted in Toronto, Ontario at the Provincial Pathology Unit later this week.

Mishkeegogamang Chief Connie Gray-McKay said that the community is “totally shattered.”
“Over the years, we had many tragic fires,” she said. “So many fires that have never been addressed, in terms of processing and in terms of healing from those.”

Gray-McKay would like to see an inquiry into the house fire, but said that is it too early to discuss it now.
“I am going to be asking for it later on when I speak to the family,” Gray-McKay said. “Essentially, they’re the ones who are going to be able to support an inquiry and we will have to advocate for them.”

Gray-McKay said that she would like to see an inquiry done so that no other children have to die because of a “lack of government response to housing and quality of housing.”
“That’s why I want to push for an inquiry but I can’t do it until I hear from the family themselves – if we want to see change in how we are funded and supported as First Nations, then they (the family) will have to participate in it. But I don’t want to put them into something that’s going to be hard on them.”

Gray-McKay said that there was a fire the community the night before the Feb.13 fire, but nobody was hurt. She said they are working on ways to help the community through this tragedy.
“There’s been so many triggers because of this fire, and basically the community have retreated so we are going to be opening our community center to have food for them, and to have singing, and to just bring people together,” Gray-McKay said.

Gray-McKay said the tragedy is especially hard on the youth.
“We really need to reach out to the young people, the losses are so great within the peer group,” she said.

Gray-McKay is expecting a lot of people to arrive in Mishkeegogamang to attend the funeral, and the community is open to accept any donations from those seeking to help.

Food items and bedding are the top needs right now in the community. Gray-McKay can be contacted at by anyone who wishes to donate and support the community. Donations can be delivered to the Community Center, and any financial donations can be made payable directly to the First Nation itself.

“We appreciate any type of support and donations people can give – and of course everybody’s prayers,” Gray-McKay said.

NAPS stated that investigation is still ongoing and further updates will be released as they become available.

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