In the past two weeks, nearly 3,000 people from northwestern Ontario have been displaced due to wildfires.
Continued fires and scarce resources have separated families, people sleeping in cribs, and the timetable for when they can go home safely is still undecided.
But they are not alone.
This situation triggered community outreach activities. For example, in Kenora, local resident Tania Cameron began organizing volunteer services for evacuees.
“If you are a family or an elder who has to leave right away, obviously there will be some items… People may forget to pack. So I just want to make sure they have everything they want,” Niisaachewan Aboriginal Member Card Melon said.
Cameron said that the sheer number of evacuees and the intensity of the fire made her worry about those directly affected and made her wonder whether the host community would meet cultural needs.
“Their diet is very, very different…so I think it’s always good to have indigenous representatives when they have an emergency operations center,” she said in an interview on CBC Radio. “I hope all our municipalities will take this into consideration when taking in evacuees.”
Raise funds for evacuees
The evacuees in the northwestern Ontario city were supported by the Emergency Operations Center and its partners, but Cameron voluntarily took time out to replenish the accommodation already in place.
She began to receive donations from other residents in the Kenora area, amounting to more than $800.
“A friend reached out and said,’You know, I used to be an evacuee. One of the best things for me is a gift card, because I know exactly what my little family needs.’ So this is What I want to do. I want to buy a gift card worth $850.
Cameron said that she also cooperated with the operations center and the leaders of Baiyang Mountain to make the accommodation more comfortable by providing tea, children’s activities and even a person’s bed.
“I went to see the representative of Baiyangshan, I just said,’If you have any needs, please tell me.’ She said, “You know, well, we have an old man in a wheelchair. He can’t switch to A small crib is provided, so he has been in a wheelchair since he arrived on Friday. “It surprised me.”
Residents of Poplar Hill First Nation began fleeing their homes on July 12, marking nearly two weeks since 647 people were able to return home.
About 77 of these evacuees landed in Kenora, which is more than 400 kilometers away from the indigenous people. The other members of the Aboriginal people—as well as those from the Aboriginal people of Maohu, Beiling Lake, Luhu, and Picangikum—are scattered across the province.
As of Thursday, the city of Kenora said it does not expect more evacuees, but some people changed locations last week.
Kenola Fire Chief Kent Ridman said: “The community has been moving people to different cities, just trying to keep the family unit together, etc.” “So there was a dialogue, we are doing something, bringing some Family members are brought to Kenora to reunite with them, but we do have more abilities.”
Evacuees from these indigenous people have been sent to various communities in Ontario, such as Thunder Bay, Kapuskasing, Cochrane, Timmins, Greater Sudbury, Kenora, Sioux Observatory, Su Sheng. Mary, Peel area, Mississauga, Laxar First Nations, and Cornwall.
If needed, other communities and organizations in the northwest have stepped up to welcome evacuees. Lac Shoal Lake 40, Wauzhushk Onigum and Kenora Chiefs Advisory said on Monday that they will work together to help evacuate.