The losses experienced by Cumberland House Cree Nation after a fire at the community’s band office are “insurmountable,” according to the band.
A devastating fire that destroyed the Cumberland House Cree Nation’s band office appears to have been set on purpose.Speaking to the StarPhoenix Monday evening, Cumberland House Chief Rene Chaboyer said RCMP investigators had informed him cause of the blaze appears to be arson .Chaboyer said threats related to politics had not been uncommon before Monday morning’s fire.“Someone decided today that they were going to take it to the next level,” Chaboyer said, adding that he expects whoever was responsible will eventually be caught.Chaboyer said the fire was spotted Monday morning by a local trapper. From there, RCMP and firefighters from the Village of Cumberland House tried to contain the fire, with help from crews out of Carrot River — located some 150 kilometres away. Chaboyer thanked everyone who tried to save the structure, but confirmed the building was a total loss.Departments working out of the office included finance, housing, income assistance, post-secondary student support, membership, the daycare and Headstart program. Justice and chief and council administration offices were also in the building.Chaboyer said those functions would continue out of temporary offices to be housed in other buildings, including the headquarters of the band’s development corporation.Historical items, valued photos of elders and several documents related to ongoing land claims work are lost. The band was in the he process of uploading its records to outside servers over the last year and a half. Chaboyer said they were still working with their software company to see how much data could be salvaged.In the longer term, he said the band would eventually rebuild the office. He added that Cumberland House Cree Nation was already in talks with a company run by the Prince Albert Grand Council to get a fire hall and trucks on-reserve.Cumberland House Cree Nation is located approximately 435 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.Related