Hundreds of wildfire evacuees from Shoal Lake and Red Earth Cree Nations are currently being housed at the University of Regina according to the Canadian Red Cross, which is helping coordinate efforts along with First Nation Leadership, the University of Regina and the Prince Albert Grand Council.
“We have just under 500 members of the Red Earth and Shoal Lake communities,” said Canadian Red Cross Saskatchewan vice-president Luc Mullinder.
“We are supporting them with food, lodgings, cash cards, health cheques — anything we can do to make their community response a little bit easier for everybody. This was a very impressive effort from their community leadership and we were really happy to support it.”
Speaking with Global News over the phone, Shoal Lake Cree Nation Chief Marcel Head said the evacuations were prompted last Thursday by the Bell fire, which was burning about 20 km south of the First Nation.
He said heavy smoke in the area was the main motivator for the evacuation, which began by bus and person vehicle Thursday with elders, babies and others with health conditions, and continued through Friday and Saturday.
While the province still lists that fire as “not contained”, Head said favourable wind conditions are pushing flames and smoke east, and away from his community. He said that firefighting crews, including a helicopter, are currently battling the blaze and that unless things change community members should be able to begin returning home Tuesday.