NAN Renews Calls for Action on Fire Safety as Three Victims Confirmed in Pikangikum Fire

Press Release

March 1, 2023

THUNDER BAY, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum and the Executive Council are saddened to learn that three people have been confirmed as victims of a house fire in Pikangikum First Nation last week:

“We were deeply saddened to learn that remains have been recovered from the scene of last week’s fire. We had hoped and prayed for their safety since they were first identified as missing, and we are heartbroken that our worst fears have been confirmed.

We grieve the loss of Vernie Turtle, 44; Kirsten Moose, 38; and Kendriyanna Turtle, 8.

We are praying for the families, Chief Shirley Lynne Keeper and Council, and the entire Pikangikum community. We also acknowledge the first responders and all those who have visited the community to assist. We take comfort knowing that our people are supporting one another as we always do in times of need.

It is outrageous that we must plead with our Treaty partners every time an innocent life is lost. Nice words are said, but very little is done. We do not need condolences or sympathy from the governments of Ontario and Canada. We need action. Immediately. Before any more lives are lost.

Please join us in sharing love and prayers with the family and the Pikangikum community over the difficult days ahead.”

NAN is still grieving the loss of a 10-year-old girl in a house fire in Weenusk First Nation (Peawanuck) in January.

Amber’s Fire Safety Campaign was endorsed by Chiefs-in-Assembly in 2016 to promote fire safety and awareness in all NAN First Nations. The campaign is named in memory of Amber Strang, the youngest victim of the March 29, 2016, fire in Pikangikum that claimed nine lives, including three generations of Amber’s family.

NAN submitted a three-year proposal to Indigenous Services Canada in 2022 to continue this Campaign’s work to provide smoke detectors to all homes and educate members on fire safety. A verbal agreement from Indigenous Services Canada for one-year of funding was only received this week, after four people have lost their lives in NAN First Nation communities in the past month.

For more information please contact:
Michael Heintzman,
Director of Communications
Cell: (807) 621-2790


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