The Thanksgiving holiday is intended to give Canadians a chance to pause and reflect and give thanks and that’s exactly what the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) is doing this weekend as it continues to recover from a wildfire disaster earlier this year.
On Friday, Wood Buffalo posted a video called Grateful Hearts to its Facebook page to thank Canadians for helping the community recover from May’s catastrophic wildfire that saw about 80,000 people forced to flee Fort McMurray.
Aside from the heroic efforts of fire crews in battling the blaze, many Canadians showed their compassion for those impacted by the blaze by opening their homes to wildfire evacuees, donating food and other supplies or simply donating money to the emergency relief effort. In August, the Canadian Red Cross said it had raised almost $300 million to support its relief efforts in the Fort McMurray area.
“This weekend we ask for your help again, to share a message of thanks,” the RMWB said on its Facebook page Friday. “Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for, and this weekend we are thankful for the support of Canadians. Your thoughts, prayers, donations, volunteer hours, hand-made gifts, shipments of supplies and kind words are a constant reminder of the care the residents of Wood Buffalo received in their time of need.”
The video features brief scenes from both the wildfire itself and the recovery that followed, and is interspersed with clips from area residents recalling the events and voicing their gratitude for help from others.
“The tremendous support that we actually had from across Canada was just overwhelming,” firefighter Mike Woykin says in the video. “To have a positive outcome at the end of it, which I believe will happen, it is something that we as a community experienced together and I think that’s something that we’ll all take with us.”
“Everyone of you that’s put in the effort that you did, you need to know just how incredibly grateful we are and you need to know that I get to thank you not only on behalf of my council but all of the residents of Wood Buffalo for what you’ve given to this region: the hope and the compassion and the support are what’s going to carry us through to a better day,” Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake says in the video.
The Facebook post calls on Wood Buffalo residents to share the video and to express thanks to those who helped them when they were displaced by the fire.
A Wood Buffalo municipal committee, tasked with developing a recovery plan for the community, says a total recovery from the disaster could take three to five years. About 2,400 buildings were destroyed in the fire.
The northern Alberta wildfires that became known as the Fort McMurray wildfire began on May 1, 2016 and scorched over 590,000 hectares of land.
Watch below: Global News coverage of the 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurray.