State of Emergency Declared in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug

Top row, left to right: Geraldine (mother), Angel (age 12), Karl (age nine), Thyra (surviving, age 19). Bottom row, left to right: Hailey (age seven), Shyra (age six).
Top row, left to right: Geraldine (mother), Angel (age 12), Karl (age nine), Thyra (surviving, age 19). Bottom row, left to right: Hailey (age seven), Shyra (age six).

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug – Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) has issued a Declaration of Emergency as of May 7, 2019, at 2:00 PM C.D.T in response to a fatal house fire which occurred last Thursday.

Chief Donny Morris declared the emergency on the grounds that “This tragedy is having a devastating impact on the entire community, with continuing effects that require external support and financial assistance. We are feeling the crushing weight of this tragedy in our community and with our people.”

Many youth and family members are suffering from mental health trauma in the wake of the loss, with some experiencing suicidal thoughts.

As a remote, far-north community KI lacks the resources to handle the mental health care needed on this scale. With only one in-clinic crisis response team available they lack the staff to handle those that need round the clock in-home attention. “There are too many people to watch and not enough manpower to watch them,” said Chief Morris.

The community has reached out to others for help, receiving it from a number of First Nations government organizations, which have been the quickest to respond. This includes Nishnawbe Aski Nation which has sent in crisis response teams, surrounding Tribal Councils, and Independent First Nations Alliance, the community’s Tribal Council, who has been helping to coordinate the response effort. The response team has been in contact with federal and provincial government representatives and expect some forthcoming support.

The community has come together, not only for themselves but for those providing assistance as well. The responders, supporters and family members coming into the community need food, shelter and stress relief. With a lack of infrastructure, such as hotels and restaurants, the community centre has been opened both to these and to any community members that feel they need support.

There are meals, activities, and live music being offered as a source of relief.

The community center acts as a community hub morning through night. It is estimated that this support is costing the community at least $10,000 per day and may not see reprieve until after the funerals of the five family members who perished in the fire.

A GoFundMe campaign has been started at: https://www.gofundme.com/tragic-fire-in-ki.