PIKANGIKUM – NEWS – In the early morning on June 12th, a 16-year-old girl who was recently evacuated from the far north First Nation community of Pikangikum was struck and killed by a vehicle in Cochrane, Ontario. The girl was one of over 2,000 community members who were evacuated from their homes due to a forest fire that threatened their community. This tragic event occurred just as the news that fire evacuees were starting to return home began to circulate. Currently, there are few details to be shared, but it was confirmed that Kelsey Strang of Pikangikum First Nation was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Many have expressed that she will be missed.
“This news is overwhelmingly sad,” said Chief Amanda Sainnawap from Pikangikum. “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 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. Said Chief Sainnawap, “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 counselling in whichever host community they may be in.”
NetNewsLedger expresses our condolences and sympathy to the friends and family of Kelsey.