I’ve been worried sick for the past 3 days, from the first moment I learned about the wildfire entering Fort McMurray and the unimaginable snap-evacuation of 88,000 people. I have friends there that have treated me like family in my journeys to and from the north and am relieved to hear they are all safe and sound in the south. Like many other Canadians, I have been left mouth agape at the harrowing stories and videos showing a hellscape unfolding in gridlock traffic. With only two confirmed fatalities and no reports of missing persons, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t much worse.
It certainly can’t compare the loss that so many have experienced, but two of the hotels I stay in when I’m in the city have been razed from the map. Footage I have taken in the past years captures a landscape that will never look the same again. Satellite imagery shows that the burn zone extends as far as the eye can see outside the city limits. Fort McMurray faces a long road of recovery and adjustment, and I think any decent hearted Canadian, whether they have ties there or not, will agree that we are behind them 100%.
Smoke from Fort McMurray is spreading across the country, but not as fast as the outpouring of generosity and support that is returning to Alberta.
Albertans and Canadians are also rallying to provide the necessities for evacuees, leaving store shelves bare! The oil sands have suspended operations in many facilities and opened their camps to thousands of people, families and pets, at no cost to evacuees. So many have put their best foot forward and stepped up to meet the need, and that brings a tear to my eye.
Please donate to the Red Cross through their website or by texting redcross to 30333. The federal government will match individual donations and I’ve read that we have already raised $30 million, but more will be needed. I saw this imagery of smoke from the Fort McMurray fire spreading over the continent and thought, how apt. Fort McMurray’s ashes are spreading across Canada, and we are all sharing in the grief, but Canadians generosity and support is spreading back to Alberta at light speed.
Michael Tyas is the managing editor of One River News. He graduated the University of Manitoba with an honours degree in environmental studies, and is a professional videographer and video trainer. He produced the feature length documentary "One River, Many Relations" in Fort Chipewyan. He continues to work with indigenous communities to share their stories around resource extraction, industrial development, and impacts on traditional territories.