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Incident should be a warning to us all

Letter to the editor,
There was a recent CBC news story about a fire at Big Grassy First Nation, where an individual (Ivory Tuesday) had to take heroic action to overcome a failure in our communities.
The failure was that of the Big Grassy Fire Dept. to have a response ready fire department as well as Lake of the Woods Twp. for not being able to send a fire response team to assist
The reasons for these shortcomings are well known. As I can only speak as a member of Lake of the Woods community, the reason is we allow liability insurance dictate to us when or when not we can assist our neighbours, be they First Nations or the unorganized territories next door.
We have to overcome these barriers.
Sounds simple but the realities we have created as a society makes this seem like an insurmountable problem.
What we need is to elect from every level of government representatives to assist courageously, with foresight a determination to overcome these problems. These problems present difficulties that will only increase in the future
Let me illustrate; it has been said that in the Rainy River district 40% of our population is of aboriginal descent.
As a councilor of Lake of the Woods, some years ago, I would attend regional meetings concerning emergency measures in times of disasters.
The first nation communities from this area were not represented or a part of these planning processes.
Since we would all be using the same facilities in times of disaster (doctors, hospitals, infrastructure, etc.) this made no sense.
In trying to bring this to our planners attention, the problem was shrugged off as being a part of federal responsibility. I was even told to shut up by one of our own councilors. Neither of these responses do anything to coordinate our need to respond to a crisis or disaster.
To further possible coordination I shared our regional plans with Big Grassy First Nation for several years. In response to this Big Grassy invited my wife Karen and I to attend their emergency measures deliberations Both Karen and I were astounded by the cultural differences of these deliberations.
While the Euro centred deliberations were all about process (how to avoid the lawsuit) ,the first nation approach was entirely centred on the people within the community and the processes were fitted to that concern. Why would they possibly even want to attend one of our meetings except perhaps coordination.
This latest incident should be a warning to us all and at best a turning point in our mutual lives together.

–Tony Sepers,