A small school in northern Saskatchewan is coping with a big loss. The Wapanacak Elementary School in Pelican Narrows is planning a memorial for a little girl who died in a house fire this week.
Ten-year-old Denasia Sewap was in Grade Four. The school’s principal, Ray Highway, knew her well. He says she was the kind of a child that could put a smile on everyone’s face:
“She had a smile for everybody, she had a hug for everybody. That’s the hardest part, you know. You don’t see too many kids like that. You will say “Hi” to them and they will keep walking. Her, she will come up to you, smile and give you a big hug.”
She was living with her great-grandparents when the fire broke out at about 1:30 in the morning on Tuesday. Initially, it was believed she escaped — but after the fire was out, what is believed to be her remains were found inside the charred structure. Highway says she apparently ran back into the home believing her great-grandfather was still inside:
“What I heard is that they all got out. She was with her great grandma and the great-grandfather must have been on the other side of the house, so she did not know he was out. So she went back to look. That is what I am hearing.”
Grief counsellors have been brought in to help her classmates deal with the loss. The students are planning a memorial for Denasia.
The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation is rallying around the girl’s family, providing counselling services. It has also started a fundraising drive. The neighbouring community of Deschambault Lake is also holding a pledge drive.
RCMP, with the assistance of fire investigators, are still trying to determine the cause of the fire. Sgt. Craig Cleary says, at this point, nothing has been ruled out:
“There has been nothing one way or the other to say whether the fire is suspicious or not at this point.”
While the little girl’s name has now been released publically, RCMP cannot confirm a positive identification until that has been determined through an autopsy.