In spite of losing one of its members to suicide a week before competition, the Fond du Lac Fire Department pulled together, prevailed and won a national competition last weekend.

The six-member team placed first at the 2018 Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada competition on Aug.11 in Dauphin, Manitoba.

Fond du Lac Dene Nation Chief Louie Mercredi says it is a credit to the team that they were able to perform so well in a time of tragedy.

“We are very resilient, we stick together, we’ve seen the hardship in the past year,” he says. “Like I said, we stick together and we all work things out together.”

On Aug. 4, 22-year-old Frank Jr. McDonald took his own life.

Fond du Lac also experienced tragedy late last year on Dec. 13 when a plane with 25 people aboard crashed in the community shortly after takeoff.

The Fond du Lac firefighters qualified for the national competition after winning the provincials in Prince Albert in June 2017.

The team lost another one of its members to suicide in 2015.

(PHOTO: Fond du Lac firefighters in 2017. Photo courtesy of Fond du Lac Firefighters Facebook page.)