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Mamakwa calls on provincial and federal governments to listen to First Nations and support urgently needed fire services

Mamakwa says that there can be no more jurisdictional roadblocks on the way forward when it comes to the lives of First Nations children
2021-09-30 sol mamakwa
Sol Mamakwa, NDP MPP for the northwestern Ontario riding of Kiiwetinoong. Photo/ Sol Mamakwa

THUNDER BAY – NDP MPP for Kiiwetinoong, Sol Mamakwa is voicing his support for First Nations calling on the provincial and federal governments to support communities that urgently need fire resources after the deaths of three young children in a fire in Sandy Lake First Nation that has devastated the community.

“There’s a real need, we cannot continue to look away. We cannot continue to just send thoughts and prayers. We need Indigenous-led, First Nation-led process whereby the province and also the feds are working together to come up with a solution, so it doesn’t happen again,” said Mamakwa.

According to the Ontario Chief Coroner’s Table on Understanding Fire Deaths in First Nations, First Nations children aged zero to nine years have a fire-related mortality rate 86 times greater than non-First Nations children in Ontario, making them the group with the highest death rate.

“I believe when we are from Ontario, we live in Ontario, the premier should take action, listen, and hear First Nations leadership, families, communities to be able to come up with a solution,” said Mamakwa.

“And we know when we talk about some of the issues that some type of multi-prong approach, when we talk about increasing fire safety awareness. But also education to the community members.”

Mamakwa also says that there can be no more jurisdictional roadblocks on the way forward when it comes to the lives of First Nations children.

“When we play jurisdictional ping pong on the the health, on the lives of children. It does not work, this continued discrimination because of the policies and that’s not acceptable anymore to play that, that jurisdictional game. We cannot allow for that anymore moving forward,” he said.

Mamakwa also says that there is no standard on the provision of services to reserves with respect to fire suppression and fire safety and that there are too few firehouses, trucks, equipment and trained personnel.

“The people of Ontario want to help. Canadians want to help. It is time for the Ford government to listen and provide the fire fighting resources needed in First Nations communities now. First Nations are asking for the same level of fire protection afforded to all Ontarians,” said Mamakwa.

 “Right now, too many communities are relying on volunteers and insufficient equipment to fight fires because they do no have the funds and resources for paid firefighters and fire prevention services. The province must help protect families with fire safety action plans and ensure that all homes and infrastructure are safe. If the government doesn’t act now, more tragedies will happen. How many children will we lose to preventable fires before this government takes action to save lives?”

Justin Hardy

About the Author: Justin Hardy

Justin Hardy is a reporter born and raised in the Northwest.
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