Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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January 8, 2016

10TH ANNIVERSARY OF KASHECHEWAN FIRE MARKED WITH RENEWED CALL FOR SAFETY

THUNDER BAY, ON (January 8, 2016): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon today marked the 10 anniversary of a tragic fire that claimed the lives of two young men in Kashechewan First Nation with a renewed call for safety in NAN First Nations.

“The Kashechewan fire was a tragic example of the appalling deficiencies in community safety in remote First Nations, and 10 years later the inadequacies in police and firefighting services combined with substandard housing continues to put lives at risk,” said NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “Today we remember these two young men and all those we have lost by renewing our call for a comprehensive plan of preventative action by the federal and provincial governments to improve fire safety and housing standards across NAN territory.”

Ricardo Wesley, 22, and Jamie Goodwin, 20, burned to death while in custody at the Kashechewan police detachment in 2006 while the community was powerless to save them. An inquest into their deaths (the Kashechewan Inquest) garnered national attention on the inadequacies of policing and firefighting resources in remote First Nations.

In 2009 a coroner's jury delivered 86 recommendations including increased federal and provincial funding for fire safety and improvements to First Nation police facilities, many of which remain far below provincial standards.

“On this day my thoughts and prayers are with the Goodwin and Wesley families and also with my community of Kashechewan. I clearly remember January 8, 2006 when two young precious lives were needlessly ended because of inhumane, third world practices imposed on our people by federal and provincial government programs,” said Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon. “What makes it even more difficult is that today our policing system remains severely under-resourced, under-staffed on the ground, our local detachments barely meet building codes and don’t meet standards to this date and there is no housing for the officers. I am cautiously optimistic and I again call on the governments to immediately address the numerous reports that identify the serious gaps in policing before more lives are needlessly lost.”

A 2010 federal study on fire safety found that people living in First Nations are 10 times more likely to die in a house fire than people in the rest of Canada. More recently, it was reported that an internal federal report found that nearly half the First Nations across Canada have “little to no fire protection” and “rely too heavily on poorly trained volunteer firefighters who can’t do the job.”

For more information please contact:
Grand Chief Jonathon Solomon – Mushkegowuk Council (705) 658 4222 or grandchief@mushkegowuk.com
Michael Heintzman, Director of Communications – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4965 or cell (807) 621-2790 or by email mheintzman@nan.on.ca

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