The loss of the school to arson is just the latest tragedy at an Ontario reserve already mourning three recent suicides

Posted: June 19, 2007 in Natives, Toronto

TORONTO — Claire Eckert first noticed flames leaping out of the school roof in Pikangikum around 9 o’clock last Friday evening. It was windy that night, and the fire quickly engulfed the entire one-storey clapboard building, forcing her and many other residents of the remote Ojibwa community in Northwestern Ontario to flee their homes.

By the time residents had put out the fire – a feat that depleted the community’s entire water supply – there was nothing left but rubble, leaving children attending the reserve’s only school with nowhere to go. The community’s elders say the deplorable living conditions on the reserve make it a warehouse for social problems. Many of the young people sniff gasoline, a problem that school officials fear could worsen now that they have nowhere to go.

Read the full story here

  1. Ty Ritchie says:

    Well, let me start off by saying that it is a tragedy the only school burned down. I’ve been a firefighter/Fire Prevention Officer for about 3 years now, and I can say the following things about this:

    #1 Kudos to the residents for getting the fire knocked. But where was the Fire Deparrtment?
    #2 Okay, say they don’t have even a volunteer department, how do they know it’s arson without the OFM coming in to look around?

    #3 Why is it automatically a crime? Something burned on a Reserve, must be an evil colonial arsonsist….Carpets and rugs leave Liquid Accelerant patterns. So it may not have been arson.

    I do feel sorry for the people of the Pikangikum Reservation for losing the school, however.

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