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Northern fire fighters celebrated at graduation

SIX NATIONS – In partnership with the Ontario Native Fire Fighter Society and Indigenous Northern Affairs Canada, the Six Nations Fire and Emergency Services Department Training Academy graduated recruits on Thursday, April 6, from the Northern Fire Fighter Training Program hosted on Six Nations. The ceremony was a little late as several fire fighters were

SIX NATIONS – In partnership with the Ontario Native Fire Fighter Society and Indigenous Northern Affairs Canada, the Six Nations Fire and Emergency Services Department Training Academy graduated recruits on Thursday, April 6, from the Northern Fire Fighter Training Program hosted on Six Nations.

During the ceremony, graduates were seated to hear words from many proud speakers, as well as enjoy videos featuring themselves and their hard work during training. Photo by Chezney Martin

The ceremony was a little late as several fire fighters were called to help fight a fire. But the lucky graduates are the first class of this program to graduate; Ashley Russel-Taylor, Carrie Boshkaykin, Paul Vivian, Matthew Hillier, Aimee Lyon, Leon Nayanookesic, Mike Thompson, Bobby Copenance, Robin Archie, and Robert Eshkibok will each receive certification. Each fulfilled a five-week program away from their home community.

Ava Hill spoke with a media representative from APTN on the importance of fire fighters within indigenous communities, as well as the success of the graduates. Photo by Chezney Martin

“We should all be very proud,” said Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill. “I’m so glad to see so many graduates, I am to understand they’re from all different First Nations from across the country.”

“I think it’s so important because you will take your expertise in the capacity that you have back to your own communities and I’m sure it’s gonna benefit your communities, which is so sorely needed,” said Hill to the seated graduates.

“In the long-run we all want the same thing for our communities,” she said. “We all want healthy and safe communities, and now that you’ve had this training you’re going to play a big part in that, just as our firemen do in our community.”

Graduates pose together in light of being the first graduating class from the Northern Fire Fighter Training Program. Photo by Chezney Martin

Hill also commended Six Nations Fire Chief Matthew Miller for his collaborative work in beginning the training academy.

Miller said that the number of fires that happened this year is “astronomical” and with 15 indigenous people lost to fires this year as well, fire fighters are needed more than ever.

“There is no other community in Canada that has as many house fires as first nations communities do,” said Miller. “People are 10.4 times more likely to die if you live in a first nations community as a result of a house fire.”

Miller explained that travelling to other communities has confirmed the importance of fire fighters.

During the ceremony, graduates were seated to hear words from many proud speakers, as well as enjoy videos featuring themselves and their hard work during training. Photo by Chezney Martin

“We just spent the last couple of weeks visiting 18 of our brother and sister communities and fly-in communities in the North, and I can tell you right now that fires are going to keep happening.” he said, as he explained to the graduates that their home communities will experience fires as well.

“We need more people like you in you your communities” he said. “We need people that are going to have passion, commitment and dedication in keeping your communities safe.”

Other speakers of the night included Captain Martin McNaughton, President of Firestar Services Mark Vanderfesyt, SNF&ES Instructor Adrian Chrisjohn, Graduate Carrie Boshkaykin, and Ontario Native Fire Fighters Society Executives Steve Nolan, Allan Manitowabi and Frank Gionette.

Supportive friends, family and staff then enjoyed a catered meal in honour of the new fire fighters that will return to their home communities.

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Chezney Martin

Chezney Martin

Chezney covers Arts, Culture and Entertainment and Sports, contact Chezney for tips or feedback.

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