PIKANGIKUM, Ont. — A northern Ontario community devastated by a house fire that killed nine people has reached out for help as its children cope with the tragedy.
Kyle Peters, education director on the Pikangikum First Nation, says youth are at greater risk of emotional trauma in the aftermath of the fire, since they may be left on the sidelines at a time when adults are struggling to come to terms with what happened.
The community has asked Right to Play, a group that promotes activity for children in high-risk situations, to help fill that void in the coming days.
Rose Lipton, the organization's director of Canadian programs, says a team was flying in Thursday to temporarily ramp up a program that already exists in the community.
She says sports, graffiti walls and activities to promote reflection will all be available to Pikangikum's youth for at least a week, she said.
"In a time of grief, the community shuts down and has to deal with that," she says. "That's when it's most important that there's something stable and consistent for the kids, something that feels like a little bit of normal."
A blaze that erupted in a family home late Tuesday night on the Pikangikum reserve killed six adults and three children.
A crowdsourcing campaign has been launched (https://www.gofundme.com/b2wr6c9d) to raise money to cover funeral costs and provide support to surviving family members.
The effort had raised more than $3,000 of its $20,000 goal since being established on Wednesday night.
— By Michelle McQuigge in Toronto
The Canadian Press