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Indigenous leaders in Ontario have been heavily criticizing the government. The criticism has sprung from the inadequate housing support after a fire in the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin took five lives. Kurt Antone and his four sons were victims of a house fire on a reserve near London, Ontario on Wednesday morning.
During a press conference, chief Randall Phillips said that the home that they were residing in was old and dilapidated which was the main reason for the fire not being controlled. He continued that the Oneida Council had already applied for the refurbishment of 50 homes on the reserve but the application was rejected. The money was instead given to the northern indigenous communities who the government felt were in greater need.
According to a federal report published in 2011, the people living on the first nation reserves of Canada are more likely to die in a house fire as compared to the people in the rest of the country. Ontario’s Regional Chief Isadore Day said that even after 5 years, not much has changed about the report. He added that infrastructural and housing issues are very common in all the First Nation reserves across the country.
Day said that across Ontario you will find how dilapidated the housing is. You have to look a little carefully and you can find numerous problems with each house. There is a need to address the problem of underfunding for the First Nations or there could be a lot more similar accidents happening in the country. Day addressed the Prime Minister and said that he needs to put the money where his mouth is.
The cause of the fire has still not been determined, but both the Ministry of Indigenous relations and the Fire Department are taking steps to finding the truth and are working towards a much safer environment for the First Nations to live in.