Two young girls, Santana Pauchay, 1, and Kaydance Pauchay, 3 were found frozen to death in snowdrifts not far from their home on the Yellow Quill First Nation in Saskatchewan January 29. They left their home after midnight with their father, Christopher Pauchay, 25, and headed to their neighbour’s house approximately 400 metres away. The sisters were dressed only in shirts and diapers in the minus-50 degree weather.

The little girls never made it, and their father was found on the neighbour’s doorstep at 5:30 am suffering from hypothermia, frostbite and alcohol consumption.

It was only that afternoon when Christopher Pauchay began asking how his daughters were doing that anyone realized they were missing.

Kaydance was found several hours later, and her sister was located the next day.

Although authorities are still unclear on exactly what happened that night, the girls’ family believes alcohol played a role.

“The only reason I think this happened is to give my community a wake-up call,” Irene Nippi, grandmother of Santana and Kaydance, told Canwest News Service. “It’s such a tragedy, but yet my grandchildren weren’t buried in vain…I hope there’s change now that happens – a lot of changes like no alcohol and counselling and stuff to be brought in here. Our old teachings should be brought back.”

A ceremonial fire was lit the evening of February 1 during the wake for the girls and the funeral took place the next morning at the band hall. The mother of the girls, Tracy Jimmy, attended with Christopher Pauchay, who was brought by ambulance from the hospital where he is recovering from his injuries.

The RCMP is continuing to investigate the tragedy and will ask the Crown to recommend whether charges should be laid.

A community meeting is planned to help the Yellow Quill First Nation deal with the tragedy and to decide whether they will ban alcohol consumption.