[A-List] More news on the genocidal conditions in Kashechewan
mstainsby at resist.ca
Mon Jan 9 01:24:50 MST 2006
Two prisoners die in jailhouse fire on troubled Ontario reserve
KASHECHEWAN FIRST NATION, Ont. (CP) - The troubled conditions on a
northern Ontario reserve were again thrust into the spotlight Sunday
afternoon when a fire at the community jail killed two inmates and badly
injured a police officer who was trying to save them.
Two young men were in their cells when fire broke out in the building,
Insp. Pierre Guerard of the Nishnawbe-Askia police said from Cochrane, Ont.
Three officers made every attempt to evacuate the facility, but were
overcome by smoke and flames, he said.
"These deaths have really shaken up the community," area MP Charlie
Angus said from Ottawa. "It just seems like more tragedy upon tragedy
has been piled up in these communities. People are very upset there
One police officer attempted to free the inmates, but was badly injured
during a futile attempt to open the doors. He was flown to the burn unit
of Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto for treatment.
A second police officer and civilian guard were treated locally for
smoke inhalation, he said.
The names of the victims have not been released.
It is not clear what caused the fire, or why the officer was unable to
open the doors, but Angus said the facility was in terrible condition.
The community jail "looks like a flophouse" and didn't have proper jail
doors or padlocks, he added.
"It just was in terrible, terrible condition, holes in the walls, the
cells were inadequate. It looked more like something you see in Sarajevo
than the province of Ontario."
The MP for Timmins James-Bay was instrumental in bringing attention to
the tainted water that forced community residents from their homes last
Kashechewan Chief Leo Friday said the tragedy further highlights the
community's extensive problems.
"I asked for a fire department building for the last five years and
didn't get any response from the government."
He added the jail was combined with the post office, which also burned
to the ground in Sunday's blaze.
Angus said the weekend tragedy is yet another example of how the
government has failed those living on the reserve on the shores of James
"What we're dealing with here is again the neglect at the federal and
provincial levels," he said Sunday.
"It's this makeshift and make-do operations, (a) failure of
infrastructure in that community," he said.
All but 200 of the 1,700 residents of the reserve were evacuated after
E. coli bacteria was found in their water supply this fall.
The tainted water that drew national attention to the troubled
conditions on the reserve meant residents lived under a boil-water
advisory for two years.
When Health Canada announced high levels of E. coli in the community's
supply of drinking water on Oct. 14, chief Friday immediately called a
state of emergency and a community evacuation began in the following weeks.
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada initially said it would not fund an
evacuation, but reversed its decision after a regional doctor publicly
unveiled photos of children suffering a variety of skin infections made
worse by chlorine that had been dumped into the water to kill the bacteria.
Officials said Kashechewan's water has been free of E. coli since Oct.
17, after a contractor fixed its chlorination machine.
And while most residents returned home in November, problems persist
because frozen fire hydrants have not allowed the entire water system to
be flushed out.
Provincial and Nishnawbe-Askia police forces, along with the fire
marshal and coroner will investigate the blaze.
In the contradiction lies the hope
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