Canupawakpa fire deemed accidental

Leadership planning to rebuild

As reported earlier, last Thursday, September 26 the community complex at Canupawakpa Dakota Nation was destroyed by fire. We now have a few more details on what happened and how it will affect the community.

Many functions that used to take place in the main hall of the complex are now on hold or looking for another venue, says the band manager for the community of 360 people.

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“We have set temporary offices up in the Health Centre,” said Cheryl McGillivary, Band Manager. “All gatherings, funerals, kids activities, feasts, adult programming will be put on hold or cancelled.”

She said the complex will be rebuilt, and they hope to begin as soon as spring of 2020. But she says the insurance will probably only cover $600,000 of the estimated $1 million cost to rebuild.

“That will not cover personal belongings, including the Jordan's Principle team, which helps First Nations children have equal access to health services."

Jordan's Principle operated out of offices inside the complex, also destroyed.

“The remaining money to rebuild the complex will need to be obtained from fundraising, proposals and grants that will be applied for.”

Band Chief Viola Eastman said the building "was the heart of our community because we all gathered there for any occasion... and now we have nothing."

As to the cause of the fire, Aaron Smith, deputy chief of the Pipestone Albert Fire Department, said, “There was renovations being done on the building and the cause of the fire was determined accidental.”

Wallace District Fire Department was also involved in fighting the fire alongside fire crews from Reston and Canupawakpa.

Fire Chief Brad Yochim said, “We were there for four hours with three trucks and 10 firefighters. The biggest challenge was getting to the fire. The building was clad in metal roofing so when the structure under the roof fails and the tin falls down, it covers the burning material making it very difficult to extinguish.”  

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