Pelican Narrows local administrative centre on fire on May 15, 2017. Photo submitted.

Pelican Narrows is still recovering after a May fire decimated its administrative centre.

The radio station, community hall, bingo and court were all run out of the building before the fire, which Mayor Ovide M. Michel says has been cleared as accidental by RCMP. The official cause he was given was that electrical equipment in a room in the building had started on fire.

Since then, court has been run out of the arena and the village has borrowed a small trailer from fire management to run its administrative business. It took about six months for Pelican Narrows to get a capital grant to set up a receiver and run broadcasts of MBC, but it’s still going without the voices of local radio announcers.

Michel says the fire took away the livelihood for their well-liked Cree and English announcer Robert Merasty, who has been out of the job since May. Band councillor Weldon McCallum says communication about local events, job opportunities, school announcements and other activities have been difficult to go without.

“A lot of times too, for example, if a community lost a loved one the radio station would hold pledges for families and the community would all come together and chip in, donate to the family and it was by the hundreds, sometimes over a thousand,” McCallum says.

Michel says within the next month they will have a new building for administrative business which is being shipped in from La Ronge with funding from a capital grant. One of the delays in getting things up and running again comes from the fact that the building’s insurance had lapsed after a changeover in staff at the village office. This, Michel says, meant the contents of the buildings were insured, but the building itself was not. Another delay has been in finding a new location. The old building had been on TLE land, and Michel says the government was firm that it needs to be Crown land.

The new building will be able to hold a radio station and administration, but it will take fundraising and extra efforts to get the radio tower and equipment to the new location. It is expected to be near the band office and health centre once the lot is expropriated from an owner that has not paid taxes for more than a decade, Michel says.

The community still does not have a replacement planned for the hall, which held weddings, flea sales, dances and gospel gathering.

Michel says he’s hoping to find a solution down the road but was not willing to provide details at this time.