Community meeting organized in wake of Pubnico Head fire that killed 4 children
'This is the time for people to heal,' says emergency management co-ordinator helping organize meeting
A community information meeting is being held Friday evening as people in the area of Pubnico Head continue to reel from a fire that killed four children in the small Nova Scotia community early Sunday morning.
The event is down the road at the West Pubnico Fire Department and will include a stress management team, grief counsellors and a list of available resources that might help community members deal with the loss.
"Because of the scope of the event and it having to do with children, we just felt that there could possibly be a need," said Janine Muise, emergency management co-ordinator for the Municipality of Argyle, which is hosting the meeting.
"This is the time for people to heal."
Muise said mental-health workers at Friday's meeting may be able to help answers questions, provide coping mechanisms and address the issue of how to talk to children about the tragedy.
About 50 volunteer firefighters responded to the call early Sunday morning and spent two hours battling the blaze, but the home was completely destroyed.
Emma Kennedy and her fiancé Phil Prouty escaped the home, but Prouty is still in hospital after suffering smoke inhalation.
Kennedy's four-year-old daughter Jayla, the couple's three-month-old son Winston, Prouty's daughter Mya, 7, and his nephew Mason, 7, died in the fire.
RCMP said the fire is not suspicious. As of Thursday afternoon, the fire marshal's office had no updates on what caused the fire.
Wendy Rafuse, who works with the Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia's critical and stress management team, will be at Friday's meeting.
"It's also going to be a good place where the community as a group can begin the healing process," Rafuse said.
Rafuse is trained in stress management and works primarily with firefighters in the province. She's been working with those in the Pubnico area this week.
"It has had a very devastating impact on the firefighters, as any incident of this nature would. But this one is particularly troublesome for them in the way that there were four young, innocent children who lost their lives," Rafuse said.
"And many of the firefighters, many of the first responders have children, have grandchildren of their own, so it hits home big time.
"What we've done this week is really just the first step in the healing process. It's not something that can be done in a couple of days."
Rafuse said she'll return to the community over the coming weeks to check in with the firefighters.
RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Clarke has said officers were being offered mental-health supports. Earlier this week, grief counsellors were at Drumlin Heights Consolidated School, where two of the children were students.
A 24-hour support line has also been started for members of the community. Breanda Martin-Hurlburt, a certified peer supporter who started the Tri County Mental Health and Wellness Association, said 71 people have reached out to her so far.
"I put the post on Facebook and I've been non-stop since," she said. Martin-Hurlburt is the only person manning the line.
"They're just in disbelief and they have so much mixed feelings that they don't know what to do with that emotion."
Rafuse said while it can be difficult to ask for help, it's an important part of the healing process.
"Keeping things bottled up really makes it worse. It's really helpful to talk about how this incident is impacting you on a personal level. And know they're not alone."
The meeting will begin at the West Pubnico Fire Department at 7 p.m.