SHESHEGWANING—It was only fitting that the opening of the new fire hall extension in Sheshegwaning First Nation should take place right in the middle of fire prevention week.
On November 10, 2016 the band council passed resolution #16-17-23 to initiate this expansion and on October 10 council, community members and school children gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the enlargement.
Councillor and director of health Nicole Bush was on hand to facilitate the opening, standing in for Chief Dean Roy.
Councillor Bush began her talk with the introduction of elder Loretta Roy who delivered the opening prayer.
“Aanii,” Councillor Bush said in greeting, “It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the grand opening of our firehall expansion. Miigwetch for taking the time to celebrate this huge accomplishment of the small but progressive community of Sheshegwaning. On behalf of Chief and Council, we would like to thank the funders of this project, Industry Canada and FedNor, CIP 150, the community infrastructure program with Lucie and Arik Theijsmeijer and Indigenous Services Canada with Frank Monozolai, Holly Pearce, Shah Alamgir, Cheng Deng, Shawn Green, Phillip Stringer, Roy Angelow, Chad Aramburo, Penny Ramdeo, Connie Ong, Amid El Sabbagh, Dawna McIvor, David Didluck and Joseph Manitowabi, as well as Sheshegwaning First Nation’s own funds.”
Councillor Bush then acknowledged the great work of the construction team. Frank Cada is the band’s director of plans and operations and is thus in charge of infrastructure, including water, lands, community buildings and landfills. His A-Team, as Councillor Bush dubbed it, consisted of Tom Panamick, Darcy Spanish, Eugene Endanawas, Joe Shinos, CJ Panamick and Blair Sampson. Mr. Sampson is Sheshegwaning’s fire chief.
“Chi-miigwetch to our suppliers of materials and services,” Councillor Bush went on to say. “D and L Contracting and Lafarge for cement, Randy Noble for gravel, Dad’s Equipment Rental, Nicholls Engineering, Ray Moreau at UCCM Technical Services, surveyors and development consultants Marshall and Murray, architect Peter Rankis, UCCM Building Supply, Island Promotional Products and Olympia Steel Buildings of Canada.”
Councillor Bush also spoke of the theme for the October 7 to October 13 Fire Prevention Week, which was ‘Look, Listen and Learn’. “Be aware,” she said. “Fire can happen anywhere. It is our hope that you take this message to heart as you tour the new facility. Look, listen and learn about the fire services department in Sheshegwaning.”
As well as two fire trucks, one older and one purchased four years ago, the newly expanded fire hall also has a new emergency vehicle as well as an older one on standby. As this band has only 124 members people wear several hats. While eight to 10 people are volunteer firemen, they may also, as is the case of Councillor Bush, be emergency responders and Sheshegwaning has a large area to cover.
The first response team has to reply to emergencies from the causeway at Evansville all the way west to Meldrum Bay. There is also a helicopter pad in this community for emergencies. Fire coverage also includes the neighbouring Zhiibaahaasing First Nation. The volunteers have annual training with First Nation firefighters who travel from Thunder Bay.
Sheshegwaning resident Albert Cada spoke with The Recorder at the ceremony. Mr. Cada was on council for many years since 1977 and was the band’s chief for 10 years, starting in 1993. “I remember,” he said, “when we had our first fire hall in 1975. It was a portable trailer with 200 gallons of water pulled by a half-ton truck. Then, later, we had a fire truck with 1,000 gallons.”
Councillor Bush finished her remarks with a thank you to the men of the community. “Chi miigwetch,” she said, “to everyone involved in the construction of this new facility, especially Frank, Tom, CJ, Darcy, Eugene, and Blair, who worked so tirelessly to complete the expansion. It is a testament to your tenacity and determination in what was a very challenging project. This firehall expansion is going to strengthen Sheshegwaning emergency services and provide us with the opportunity to grow as a department. This is an amazing time. The firehall expansion will not only help us provide a safer community for Sheshegwaning, but it will also provide reassurance and safety for every family that lives within it.”
With the cutting of the ribbon, residents, including the many schoolchildren explored the beautiful newly expanded fire hall, complete with a striking sign by Beacon Images, showing the band’s logo and Sheshegwaning Fire Department against a background of flames.