Pikangikum First Nation mourning death of teen evacuee
Tim Brody - Editor
As evacuees from Pikangikum First Nation are returning home, the community is mourning the loss of a teenager from the community who was struck and killed by a vehicle in Cochrane, Ontario on June 12.
Kelsey Strang, 16, was one of more than 2000 community members who were evacuated from Pikangikum First Nation due to a nearby wildfire.
“This news is overwhelmingly sad,” said Pikangikum First Nation Chief Amanda Sainnawap in a news release issued by the community. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the girl’s family.” She continued on to say “It stresses the importance of getting our people back to our community as soon as possible. With displacement comes unfamiliar activities and surroundings, some of which our community members may be unaccustomed to. We just want to get our people home.”
The community’s news release went on to state, “The Pikangikum community members have been evacuated to communities across northern Ontario and Winnipeg. The evacuation of the community, now coupled with this tragic loss of life, demonstrates the perils of not only fires in the far north that threaten these remote first nation communities, but also the inherent problems associated with evacuation, caring for and repatriating such a large group of people in emergency situations.”
Chief Sainnawap said, “We are a close-knit community and we will struggle under these conditions to ensure that the immediate and extended family, as well as friends and classmates of the girl, will have access to support and counseling in whichever host community they may be in.”
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler Tweeted on June 12, “Devastating news out of Cochrane, Ontario this morning. A young evacuee from Pikangikum lost her life after being struck by a vehicle. Our hearts go out to her family, Chief Amanda Sainnnawap and all members of the community.”
Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa also Tweeted on June 12, “Please pray for Pikangikum leadership, evacuees and families.”