I’ve been working on a fun Mother’s Day post to share with you, but with yesterday’s news of the devastating fires in Fort McMurray, I felt compelled to switch gears a little bit.
Rarely do I engage in conversations around politics or environment, mainly because there are such strong views and opinions on the subjects, neither of which I am particularly savvy. I feel more comfortable keeping my opinions to myself, while also being aware of the conversations that are taking place to keep myself informed. Fort McMurray is often at the centre of discussions and reports surrounding environment and politics, for understandable reasons.
Yesterday, though, my heart broke as I heard of a city and it’s people being completely ravaged by wildfires that spread through a place more than 60 000 people call home. Natural disasters such as these can and have occurred anywhere and at any time, but this one struck a personal cord with me. Fort McMurray is the place my parents call home away from home. For the last 20+ years, my dad has worked in the oil sands, and in more recent years, it gained one of its newer residents, my mom, who decided to make the move and share in the life and commute that had become so familiar to him. One of my favourite things has been the reactions of people when they hear that my parents live in Fort Mac. “Do they like it?” I often hear in bewilderment, or “Oh, I could never live there”. There was definitely a time when I shared in those sentiments, but then I actually started spending some time up there, and I started asking my parents about their life up there. I learned very quickly that not only did they love it, but I understood why they loved it.
It’s a community just like any other with residents and locals, it’s own vibrancy and quirks, and a genuine desire to shed light and truth on the many criticisms and stigmas that exist about the city. It has a certain beauty year round (yes, even in the winter!) with its vast and rolling hills and an outdoors that deserves to be boasted. I had the privilege of hearing Mayor Melissa Blake speak at a conference I attended in Fort Mac about five years ago, and was so inspired by her passion and dedication to make Fort McMurray the best place to live and work. I don’t think they’re too far off from achieving that, as she talked about the initiatives and developments they were working on to really build that sense of community and make it an attractive place for people of all ages and families of all sizes to make it their home. My parents have engaged in this community, making a great circle of friends and participating in things they love – old and new – and the community has met them with a big warm hug. My parents aren’t true locals of Fort McMurray, but it doesn’t care; it has treated them as though they are. Now that I think about it, the transience of the city is maybe a beam of light in this situation – home is elsewhere for many of the people affected.
Grateful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel that my parents are not currently in Fort McMurray during this overwhelming time. Thanks to some travel plans that brought them back through Edmonton, they narrowly escaped having to evacuate and face the gridlock that took place on Highway 63. We still don’t know the state of their home up there, and while it doesn’t sound promising, we’re counting all blessings that our situation isn’t much worse. Because, for many residents of Fort McMurray, the situation is that nightmare you hope you never have to experience.
It’s at times like these that I am reminded of the kindness of people; complete strangers willing to open their doors and help one another. This CBC news report talks about the various supports that are being made available, as well as how and where you can donate if you are looking to do so (Red Cross ).
My heart and my thoughts are with this city during such a difficult time.
//Posts are not sponsored and are my own opinions and experiences \\