Crees who lost snowmobiles, four-wheelers and motor boats in a fire in a Chibougamau repair shop are filing a claim to recover their losses.
Mistissini Crees alone lost about $50,000 when a fire burned the Sports Plein-Air Gagnon store to the ground on July 4,1999.
Two Crees say they lost motor boats worth $8,000 apiece. Like other clients of the shop, they haven’t gotten any compensation a year after the fire.
Losses from other Cree communities aren’t known. Mistissini lawyer Guy Prud’homme, who is filing the claim, is contacting people in the other communities to include them in the legal action.
Prud’homme said he found out just before goose break that the store’s insurance company didn’t want to cover losses to motor boat owners and other clients.
Alain Bergeron, manager of Sports Plein-Air Gagnon, said it’s not just Crees who are affected. He said about 50 non-Crees and Crees suffered losses that haven’t been compensated by the insuror.
“There is no discrimination. Make sure you write that in your story,” he said.
The store’s owner, Jean-Marc Gagnon, has opened up a new outlet across town, and said his own losses were “$200,000, minimum.” He said he still hasn’t gotten any compensation, either.
The problem is that the fire started at a business next door and then spread to Sports Plein-Air Gagnon because of which Gagnon’s insurance company thinks the neighbouring business’s insurance should pay the bill.
Gagnon said Chibougamau residents who had losses will probably join the Crees in a legal action.