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Mother of 7 dies in house fire on Saulteaux First Nation

Community members are fundraising for 7 children who lost their mother to a house fire on the Saulteaux First Nation. Photo submitted.

A house fire on the Saulteaux First Nation claimed the life a mother of seven children. The incident took place last week and is currently being investigated by the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency to determine the origin and cause of the fire.

“The investigation lies with the Saskatchewan’s Coroner’s Service with the assistance of the RCMP,” said the agency in an email. “Our report will be submitted to them once completed.”

Family member Pauline Thomas confirms the victim of the fatal house fire was her daughter, Claudia Thomas, who was 38 years old and pregnant when she died.

Read more: Fatal house fire in Regina under investigation

“She was such a loving person. She was always forgiving and always trying to help other people,” Pauline Thomas said. “She was such an outgoing person,” she said, adding that you would almost never see her get mad. “She loved her kids very much.”

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Pauline Thomas will now be caring for her seven grandchildren. The youngest is two years old and the oldest is 15 years old. She said this transition is hard as there will now be 16 people living under her roof as she cares for her other grandchildren.

“The babies still call for their mom. It’s hard for me to show my emotions because I have to be strong for them,” she said. “They’ve been crying in the middle of the night so I’ve been getting up with them.”

The house fire occurred last week when Claudia Thomas and her children were in. Though the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency couldn’t verify how the fire started, Pauline Thomas said it started from a candle lantern that was accidentally kicked over an extension cord. As the oldest children replayed the incident to Pauline, she learned that the oldest boy tried to rescue his mom.

“[Claudia] told the oldest boys to get the kids out,” Pauline said. “And she couldn’t get out.”

It’s a painful memory that’s sketched into the children’s minds. Community counselling is available for the children, the family and first responders to help them during this time. Members of the Saulteaux First Nation came together fast to fundraise for the seven children, especially with the holidays around the corner.

Read more: Regina firefighters act quickly while driving by house fire by chance

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Amanda Sanderson of Saulteaux First Nation is handling one of the fundraising initiatives.

“I’m fundraising for Claudia’s children that she left behind,” Sanderson said. “It’s so close to Christmas and they have no mom right now.”

Sanderson is asking for cash donations through etransfers to get the children Christmas presents. So far, she has raised $1,600 and hopes to get more. Sanderson will have a team helping her buy, wrap and deliver the Christmas presents for the children. With any money leftover, she plans on opening a savings account for Claudia’s children to help them down the road.

“I’m hoping a lot of people will come forward to donate to the children,” she said. “I know Christmas presents are not going to bring back their mom. But it’s something that we, as a community, can be a blessing to these children.”

Pauline said she is grateful for her community stepping up to help during this difficult time.

“I appreciate all the help we’ve been getting, it means so much to me,” she said. “It’s overwhelming because we have so much at the house and I don’t know where to put stuff.”

Pauline is getting a house renovated and she hopes it will be ready before Christmas time.

Cash donations can be sent to amandashbapparel@gmail.com or you can contact Sanderson through Facebook.

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