The member of Parliament for the riding that includes Pikangikum First Nation says he has been told nine people died in a house fire in the northwestern Ontario community.
“We’re being told nine, including three kids – that’s what I was told this morning,” Robert Nault said in an interview from Ottawa.
All are believed to be members of the same family, Nault said.
Ontario Provincial Police Const. Diana Cole said the fire broke out shortly before midnight in the remote community near the Manitoba-Ontario border that’s been plagued by suicides.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and police remain on the scene of the blaze, Cole said.
Discussions were ongoing about sending in a team to help the community deal with “the whole issue of mourning,” Nault said, noting that everybody is very closely related.
“It affects everyone in the community whenever there’s a tragedy like this or a suicide,” he said.
“This is a community that’s had a history of suicides … and tragic situations, so this community has been in a constant crisis for a number of years.”
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who was attending the funeral for former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, took to Twitter to offer her condolences to the community.
“My thoughts are with the First Nations community of #Pikangikum and those who lost loved ones in last night’s devastating house fire,” Wynne tweeted.
My thoughts are with the First Nations community of #Pikangikum and those who lost loved ones in last night’s devastating house fire.
— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) March 30, 2016