A prayer service was held Friday in Prince Albert prior to a Saturday funeral in Pelican Narrows for two brothers who died in a house fire.
Ten-year-old Solomon Ballantyne and his nine-year-old brother Josiah were sleeping in an upstairs room when fire broke out in their home, about 390 kilometres northeast of Prince Albert on the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, Saturday, Jan. 18.
RCMP say the homeowner and three other people escaped, but the Ballantyne boys did not make it out. Their remains were found by fire investigators the next day.
The homeowner's daughter, 10, is being treated in hospital for burns.
The boys' school held tributes for them this week and the community raised money for their family. Neighbours have also spoken about the how the tragedy has affected them.
The boys' father, David Ballantyne, said his children were outgoing youngsters who loved to laugh and had many friends.
"I tried to bring them into this world to be nice people to anybody, to be forgiving," Ballantyne said. "To have a positive outlook on life. That's basically how they were."
He added the fundraising efforts and community support have been sources of comfort for the family.
"It makes the grief a whole lot easier for us, what we're going through," Ballantyne said. "[You] appreciate more about people being there for you."
Cause under investigation
It's believed the fire was accidental and may have been sparked by candles in an attic space, although the official cause is still under investigation.
Fire fighting needs of remote communities
Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Chief Peter Beatty has said house fires are a major concern in the community.
And Prince Albert Grand Council Fire Commissioner Richard Kent also spoke about fire fighting needs, saying firefighters and volunteers on reserve need more training. Kent said many remote areas rely on volunteers which leaves emergency responses inconsistent.
Saskatchewan's Children's Advocate, Bob Pringle says the Pelican Narrows tragedies are a sign that things need to change.