Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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March 29, 2018


THUNDER BAY, ON (March 29, 2018 ): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler acknowledged the progress and support NAN has received to improve fire safety on the second anniversary
of a tragic house fire that claimed nine lives in Pikangikum First Nation.

“It has been a difficult two years since the tragedy in Pikangikum and we continue to pray for strength and healing for the families, Chief and Council and the entire community,” said
Grand Alvin Chief Fiddler. “Partnerships have been invaluable for the success of efforts to improve fire safety and we thank all those who are working with us to increase fire safety in
our communities. We acknowledge our funders, the department of Indigenous Services and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, our working group of municipal fire chiefs
and technical experts, and everyone who is making this campaign such a success.”

NAN launched Amber’s Fire Safety Campaign in 2016 to increase fire safety and help prevent house fires that have devastated many communities. It is named in memory of Amber Strang,
an infant just five months old and the youngest victim of the March 29, 2016 house fire in Pikangikum that claimed three generations of her family.

Prime Minster Justin Trudeau expressed condolences to surviving family members during his visit to the remote Ojibway community on January 19, 2018.

Progress on Amber’s Fire Safety Campaign includes:

  • Providing fire prevention materials and education on installing and maintaining smoke detectors to community members.
  • Providing fire prevention education in schools for teachers and students.
  • Initiating the Woodstove Changeout Program that will replace existing wood burning systems in 195 homes across six NAN communities.
  • Initiating Wood Energy Technology Transfer certification training to ensure woodburning systems are installed and maintained correctly.
  • Providing fire safety and awareness through NAN’s Family Well Being Program.
  • Advocating for the development of Fire Prevention Officers at the Tribal Council level, and inclusion of fire prevention in community portfolios.

NAN is also working with Ontario’s chief coroner and a panel of experts to investigate the causes of residential fire that have claimed the lives of nearly 60 people in Indigenous communities over the last 10 years.

A 2007 report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation found that fire losses (deaths, injuries and destruction of property) in First Nation communities, particularly those on remote First Nation lands, far exceed those in comparable off-reserve communities. It found the First Nations per capita fire incidence rate is 2.4 times the per capita rate for the rest of Canada; the death rate is 10.4 times greater; the fire injury rate is 2.5 times greater; and the fire damage per unit is 2.1 times greater.

A NAN-led delegation of fire safety and housing experts presented an action plan to improve fire safety and prevention to the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs in December 2017 to provide insight and recommendations on the Committee’s study Fire Safety and Emergency Management in Indigenous Communities.

NAN presented recommendations to improve fire safety and emergency management in First Nations, including a 10-point action plan through Amber’s Fire Safety Campaign, and asked the Committee to recommend its implementation by the Government of Canada.

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For more information please contact: Michael Heintzman, Director of Communications – (807) 625-4965 or cell (807) 621-2790 or by email