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UPDATE: Major fire at Eabametoong First Nation education centre

A structural fire has caused substantial damage to an education centre in Eabametoong First Nation, leaving residents with many questions and concerns.

EABAMETOONG FIRST NATION — Two young people have been arrested after an early morning fire at the John C. Yesno Education Centre claimed over half of the building and caused extensive damages. 

At 7:10 a.m., officers with the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service (NAPS) were called to the school, located in the heart of Eabametoong First Nation.

An ongoing investigation by NAPS has revealed that characteristics of the fire are "consistent with arson."

A release from NAPS states that two suspects, aged 17 and 14 years old, have been located and taken into custody.

No official charges have been laid.  

The JCY Centre was integral to delivering education and providing programs to the community.

Members of Eabametoong First Nation took to Facebook to share their reactions along with photos and videos of the fire, with many expressing sadness and calling on community and provincial leaders to act quickly to ensure students will have an alternate space for schooling.

Chief Solomon Atlookan could not provide specifics at this point as the investigation surrounding the fire is ongoing.

NDP MPP for Kiiwetinoong, Sol Mamakwa, also shared an image of the fire on social media.

“I am seeing multiple posts this morning from Eabametoong,” Mamakwa wrote.

Ontario’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Greg Rickford, also shared a statement.

“Saddened to hear about the fire at Eabametoong First Nation’s school.

“Our government stands with the families and community members of EFN and is mobilizing quickly to ensure supports are available,” Rickford wrote.

According to the Teach for Canada website, the JCY Centre offers classes from junior kindergarten to grade 10 and has a student population of 340.

The school is modern, well-equipped, with two computer labs, a library with a Smart Board, a science lab, weight room, woodworking shop, and a kitchen, the site said.

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Austin Campbell is a local journal initiative reporter covering stories in the Superior North region.
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