AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine Offers Prayers, Sympathy and Condolences to Family and Community Affected by Tragedy in Pukatawagan, Manitoba and issued the following statement



    OTTAWA, March 14 /CNW Telbec/ -

    "I am saddened by the tragic loss of the three young boys, Letrel
    Bighetty-Castel, Robert Castel-Lapensee and Troi Castel-Lapensee, in the
    fire in Pukatawagan Manitoba. I extend my condolences and sympathy to the
    families and community members who are mourning.

    For First Nations - like most Canadians - the circle of family and
    community is sacred. The loss of anyone is felt deeply by all those in
    the circle. This is especially true when it involves the loss of our most
    precious and our most vulnerable: our children.

    I am deeply troubled that this tragedy might have been averted had there
    been adequate housing in that community. Too many First Nations people
    are forced to live in over-crowded, substandard housing, or, as we see in
    this case, are relegated to temporary structures. These conditions are
    simply unacceptable in a country that continues to boast of multi-billion
    dollar surpluses. It is unacceptable for First Nations and should be
    unacceptable to all Canadians. This is not about special treatment. It
    is about fair and equal treatment for First Nations families and
    children.

    I urge Canadians and the Prime Minister and the Minister of Indian
    Affairs to address the poverty and the third-world living standards that
    exist on too many reserves. I urge all Canadians to work with us to
    address these conditions so that we can prevent these kinds of tragedies
    from recurring and, in fact, create healthy and safe communities for our
    families.

    I know that at this very tragic time, First Nations across the country
    join me in sending our prayers and sympathies to the friends, family and
    community affected by this terrible tragedy."




For further information:

For further information: Joan McEwen, AFN Communications Director, (613)
241-6789 ext. 242, cell: (613) 324-3329, jmcewen@afn.ca


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