Bernard Valcourt says Ottawa working on First Nations fire safety
Five-year strategy for improvements underway, states Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
Federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt says his department is working to improve fire safety on First Nations.
Last Thursday four people died in a house fire on northwestern Ontario's Mishkeegogamang First Nation.
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Mishkeegogamang Chief Connie Gray-McKay has said inadequate housing and inadequate resources are frequently at the root of fatal fires.
Minister Bernard Valcourt was asked about the issue of fire safety in an interview Thursday in Thunder Bay. He said implementation of a five-year strategy launched in 2010 is underway.
"The effort is ongoing...and progress is being made, but unfortunately this does not prevent single accidents like this, tragedies like this from happening."
Valcourt called the recent incident at Mishkeegogamang a tragedy. "Our heart and prayers go out to the family and the community. I've instructed my officials to extend all the help they can to the community."
The minster said the incident points to the necessity "for us, working together, to try and take all the steps and measures...to avoid such situations in the future."
He added that the government has dedicated resources to try to create proper training and infrastructure on First Nations to prevent disastrous fires.
According to a 2010 federal study, First Nations people living on-reserve are ten times more likely to die in a house fire than other Canadians.