It has been an emotional week. My co-worker gave me this.
I live in Edmonton. about 8 hours south of Fort McMurray. The McMurray fire is larger than the City of Calgary. 2000 square kilometres. 80,000 people have been displaced from their homes. I refuse to use refugees because these people are fellow Canadians, they are Albertans, they are family. They are not coming from a different country, they belong to us. They need to be rescued. They need compassion and they need help.
I have been overwhelmed but the generosity of Canadians but by Edmontonians is particular. People have opened their homes. Facebook after Facebook post was “I have room for a family” “I have farmland that can hold 100 RVs”, “I have $10000 to give”, “I have pasture for horses”and the list keeps growing.
80 000 people have been displaced while Fort McMurray burns to the ground. Families are homeless, Adults are unemployed and yet the city keeps giving. The amount of love that is felt is overwhelming. I cried when the Syrian Refugees who came to Canada banded together to give what little they had because they understood how Fort Mac felt. Think about that.
I sat in my living room yesterday and surveyed my surroundings. What would I take with 15 minutes to decide? Easy, All my important papers, my ID and passport, food for my dog, and the same for my family. It makes moving from my home seem really easy because suddenly you take inventory of what is important and my home is filled with stuff. Not very many things are important. I don’t have an attachment to things, I have an attachment to people and animals. It is times like this that you really understand what you need and what is not necessary.
It makes me think about the hate I see in media coming from the elections in the US. It makes me think about the hate coming from the middle east and it makes me think about the rivalries between races and religions. All of these things do not matter when you are shown disaster on this level. All that matters is what can you do to help. Not everyone can give with monetary items but everyone can give of time and effort. Everyone can give with kind words and gestures.
I met a women yesterday who was evacuated from Fort Mac. All she had was the clothes on her back and her purse. She went to Northlands to check in and services were there to help her get started with survival. She is now in temporary lodging but has been giving money for the immediate. She was buying clothes because she had none. Women were surrounding her in ways that gave me hope for humanity. Several women chipped in and bought her clothes, another gave her a Tim’s card for food, and another offered her house as a safe place to live. We all cried and hugged and she could not express how overwhelmed she was with the generosity of Edmonton. There is no where I’d rather live than here. Here in Canada. We are a nation of amazing people.
In the months ahead, I fear the fires will spread and most of the province will burn to the ground. We have had very little snow and no rain. We have been in a drought cycle for a long time with no end in sight. It will get worse before it gets better.
I need to remember but for the grace of God go I. Next time it could be me. Be grateful for what you have, give where you can and hug your family a little tighter tonight. You are one of the lucky ones.