A meeting held Friday evening in Pubnico, N.S., to help members of the community cope after a deadly fire claimed the lives of four small children last week got a positive response, organizers say.
"It went well," said Janine Muise, emergency management co-ordinator for the Municipality of Argyle, which hosted the meeting. About 80 people turned up for the event.
"It was a good meeting and it was intended to start the healing and I think that's what it did. We just offered some resources to the people if they so needed," Muise said.
A stress management team was on hand at the event held at the West Pubnico Fire Department. A list of available resources for residents was also provided.
Cause of fire not yet determined
Two adults and four children were home early Sunday morning when the blaze destroyed the house.
Emma Kennedy and her fiancé Phil Prouty managed to escape. Prouty is still in hospital recovering from his injuries.
The couple's three-month-old son Winston, Kennedy's four-year-old daughter Jayla, Prouty's daughter Mya, 7, and his nephew Mason, 7, died in the fire.
RCMP have said the fire is not suspicious. The fire marshal's office has not yet released the cause of the fire.
Explaining tragedy to children
Wendy Rafuse, who works with the Fire Service Association of Nova Scotia's critical and stress management team, said many people stayed for 45 minutes after the meeting just to talk to one another.
"I think that was very positive," she said.
"I'm not sure if the community at large ... truly knew what to expect. Because I believe this was the first time in this community that such a session like this was held. But hopefully those who were there, they took away some important information."
Rafuse said the handout materials will be placed at locations around the community for people to take as needed.
"[Most] of the feedback was dealing with children. One of the things we stressed is we really need to take care of our children," she said, adding mental health counsellors advised families to use simple and clear language when talking about the tragic incident.
"Reassure them of their safety, reassure them that they are loved, show them that they are loved."
'Take care of each other'
Rafuse, who has training in stress management and has been working with the firefighters in Pubnico, said this event has been like a "storm surge" in the community.
"Gradually that surge will lessen in intensity, but it's kind of like the ebb and flow of the tide for the coming tide, it's just flowing in and out," Rafuse said.
"It's important for everyone to take the time they need to get back into normal living and take care of each other."