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'We're resilient': Sask. First Nation still healing after a devastating fire

Members of the Mosquito Grizzly Bears Head Lean Man Band are still recovering after a fire on April 24 demolished an 8-plex home.

Elbert Curly lost his home and all his belongings including a 5th-wheel trailer in the fire.

“I take it one day at a time. I have flashbacks on it,” said Elbert Curly. "I lost everything that I own, memories."

Others struggle to sleep, like Amelia Young. The home was the first she had ever owned.

“I wake up in the middle of the night, and like I’m still terrified,” said Young. "Losing all my possession is so hard but material things can be replaced.”

Young and Curly, along with the other 28 people who were displaced, have found short-term housing. Some families are staying in temporary shelters, others in hotels, waiting for renovated units to move into in Cando and North Battleford. The housing has been paid for by the Red Cross, the band and Indigenous Services Canada.

“Overall we’re resilient and people have really come together and supported our families,” said Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman.

The band plans to start building homes for the displaced families by the end of June, making them move-in ready by September. The homes will be located in a different area of the first nation than where the 8-plex was.

According to Ahuilar-Antiman, there are plans to turn that area into a playground and skateboard park. On June 6th, the band’s treaty day, a fundraiser will be held to raise money for belongings not covered by insurance.

The Battleford Fire Department sent three trucks to battle the fire, and 28 volunteer firefighters turned up from surrounding areas to help. Chief Ahuilar-Antiman says this incident raises questions about the band’s need for fire service.

“What does it take, do we have to lose people? Do we have to lose people’s lives to have a fire hall and fire truck,” said Aguilar-Antiman.

According to Aguilar-Antiman, the cause of the fire has not been determined. 

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