Thunder Bay

Victims of Pikangikum First Nation house fire remembered at funeral

Nine victims of a deadly house fire in Pikangikum First Nation were remembered Sunday at a funeral in the remote northwestern Ontario community.

'Terribly sad' says NAN Grand Chief en route to FIrst Nation community for funeral

Three generations of the same family were killed in a house fire in Pikangikum, a First Nation community about 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Ont. (Kyle Peters/The Canadian Press)

Nine victims of a deadly house fire in Pikangikum First Nation were remembered Sunday at a funeral in the remote northwestern Ontario community.

The youngest victims of the fire, which ravaged the home on March 29, were a five-month-old baby, a two-year-old and a four-year-old. Six adults, ranging between ages 24 and 51, also died.

"This is a sombre time for everybody," said Ontario Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations Isadore Day, noting the tragedy claimed three generations of the same family.
Ontario Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations, Isadore Day, says Pikangikum will require ongoing support following the tragedy. (Anishinabek News)

"I have young children myself and I looked at the pictures of the children and I can only think of my own and other kids that I see.

"You can't help but think what it must be like for the community right now," said Day, who anticipated the First Nation's entire population of 3,000 would attend the funeral.

He also pointed to the fact that almost everyone in the community is related through extended family, marriages and friendship.

"It's going to be very sad. Terribly sad," said Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, at the Thunder Bay International Airport, en route to the community Sunday.
Alvin Fiddler, Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, will be in Pikangikum Sunday to attend the funeral of nine people who died in a house fire in the remote Ontario community. (Alvin Fiddler)

"When we went to the site where the fire happened you could just feel the heaviness where the fire happened, and it's going to be a very difficult day. It's important to be there in the community," he said.

Both leaders also stressed the importance of what happens in the weeks and months after the funeral. 

"Clearly, a situation like this will need a lot of ongoing commitment, will require coordination and ongoing support for the community of Pikangikum," said Day.

Justin Trudeau offered his condolences to the community during a visit Friday to Thunder Bay, Ont., which is 500 kilometres southeast of Pikangikum.

According to the chief of the community, the prime minister was not able to attend the funeral, but is hoping to visit the community this spring or fall, said Fiddler.

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