Lise Vaugeois MPP, Thunder Bay–Superior North

Government of Ontario

Mamakwa calls for urgently needed increases in fire-safety investments for First Nations

Published on February 27, 2023

QUEEN’S PARK: Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong), Ontario NDP Critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations and Northern Development, issued the following statement regarding a string of recent house fires claiming the lives of First Nations, the latest on February 22 in Pikangikum.

Pikangikum fire crews were unable to douse the flames because the community’s two fire trucks were frozen, as they do not have a fire hall to store them.

“The recent disaster to claim lives in Pikangikum is one of the many tragic outcomes caused by house fire in First Nations,” said Mamakwa. "The Ford government has done nothing to bring urgently needed fire protection or meet the investment demands for infrastructure needed to save lives and prevent future tragedies.

Wunnumin Lake, Fort Severn, Mishkeegogamang, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Peawanuck, and Sandy Lake First Nations have all experienced the same avoidable fatalities as Pikangikum since 2013.

Studies have long shown that members of First Nations are ten times more likely to die in a house fire than people living in the rest of Canada. Ontario’s chief coroner reported in 2021, First Nation children under 10 had a fire-related mortality rate 86 times greater than non-First Nation children.

“These First Nations do not need more moments of silence, thoughts, and prayers,” said Mamakwa.

“First Nations know this could have been prevented with more investments toward community needs. Again and again, we have experienced these types of fires with no initiative taken by the government to put a plan in place to reduce the loss of life. Actions must be taken to avoid more preventable tragedies. We cannot use jurisdiction as an excuse not to do anything. Enough is enough.”