Kanesatake plans to build bigger, better youth centre in wake of fire

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Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon watched as the community’s youth centre, located just across from his home in the Mohawk community, burned to the ground in less than an hour late Sunday night.

“From the time I called 911, it was around 40 minutes” before firefighters from the neighbouring town of Oka arrived, Simon told CBC News.

“They came by and sprayed the ashes,” he said. “There was really nothing left by the time they got there.”

No one was injured in the fire, but the building is a complete loss.

The small Mohawk settlement does not have its own fire service. Simon says he received a text from Oka Mayor Guy Quevillon, advising him that the town’s fire marshal has concluded the fire was caused by an electrical problem. 

The chief is not convinced though, as the fire began on the back porch — the same spot where an arsonist tried to start a fire four or five years ago, he said.

Rebuilding a certainty

The building, which houses a twice-weekly program for children aged three to five and after-school activities for teens, was insured for up to $571,000, Simon said.

He said with additional government help, the community will rebuild the youth centre.

“Even if we lost the building, it’s going to be a short-term loss for our kids,” he said. “The long-term gain is going to be a bigger, better building.”



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