(Saskatoon SK) – The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) says the federal government needs to accept responsibility for its role in the tragic deaths of two children in a house fire on Makwa Sahgiehcan First Nation.

“The families affected by this tragedy cannot be overlooked and the leadership must be allowed the time required to assist the families in need.  Rather than using this tragedy as an opportunity to attack First Nations, the question should be – What has to be done to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future?” said FSIN Vice Chief Dutch Lerat.

In a press release, FSIN said the federal government also bears responsibility for this tragedy by deliberately underfunding on-reserve emergency services.  The release noted that Makwa Sahgaiehcan, like other First Nations across the province, does not receive sufficient funding to cover even two fire calls per year from the municipal volunteer fire department.  However, to avoid being held accountable, the government’s strategy is to suggest new legislation that places all the responsibility on First Nations.  This approach is also being used to cover underfunding in other areas such as drinking water and housing.

“Legislation alone will not solve any of these problems.  These services cost money.  Unless there is a significant increase in funding, there is no way First Nations can meet any kind of fire safety codes and regulations. The federal government has to meet with First Nations immediately to begin finding solutions rather than unilaterally imposing legislation. We do not want to see any more lives lost,” said Vice Chief Lerat.

The FSIN also extended sincere condolences to the families and the entire community of Makwa Sahgiehcan First Nation affected by the recent fire and tragic deaths of the two children.  The FSIN Executive stand in support of Makwa Sahgiehcan First Nation and offer prayers for the community at this difficult time.

 

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