L’Isle Verte: Memorial for a Town’s Elders

Last Saturday the town of L’Isle Verte, Quebec gathered in the church to mourn and pay tribute to 32 of their elders who died (or are still missing) tragically in a fire at the Résidence du Havre senior’s residence on January 23rd. 

This isn’t the first time this kind of incident has happened, and unless something is genuinely done to improve and strictly observe fire code standards, we can sadly expect to hear another such story again.

Six years ago in the town of Huntsville, Ontario, a fire at the Rowanwood residence broke out late one April night. The place was burnt to the ground and never reopened. My then 86 year old friend was fortunately rescued along with 55 others, thanks to the actions of staff and passers by. That experience never left her memory even after she was relocated in another residence closer to where I live. Every time the new residence had a fire drill, it all came back.

History repeats. In the news coverage from 2008 and subsequent years, we’ve heard similar stories, with a call for action to improve and universally enforce the standards to better prevent these tragedies from happening again. No doubt there will be more of the same call to action once the L’Isle Verte investigation is completed.

There is no excuse for not making the operators of these facilities invest the money to install sprinkler systems, and provide substantive – highly observable ongoing inspection in senior and long term care residences.

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