‘The grief is heavy:’ Alberta First Nation grieving death of five in house fire

ROCHFORT BRIDGE, Alta. — The chief of the Alexis Nakoda Sioux Nation in Alberta says many people are grieving the death of a couple and their three young grandchildren in a house fire.

The adults have been identified by family as Marvin and Janet Gibbs, who had been married for seven years.

Chief Tony Alexis, who is a nephew of Janet Gibbs, says the community has been helping family members through their sadness.

Emergency crews were called Thursday to the fire in the hamlet of Rochfort Bridge, which is near the First Nation, about 120 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

The bodies were found after an extensive search.

Police say there’s no update on the investigation at this time, as they are waiting for results from the fire department and the coroner’s office.

Alexis said people will want to know what happened, but right now everyone is focused on helping.

“The grief is heavy right now and so we are doing what we can to support all of the families,” he said.

He didn’t want to talk about the Gibbs family, but thanked those who have offered support.

“Right now, all the families need our prayers and … thoughts,” said the chief. “We are all trying to get to the point where the services are organized.

“There are going to be some tough days coming.”

Counselling and support is available for anyone who needs help, he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 10, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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