The same fire that burns our homes, burns within our hearts. #AlbertaStrong

Courtesy of CBC News:Handout via REUTERS

Photo Credit: CBC News/Handout via REUTERS

Friends, if you have not heard, my hometown of Fort McMurray, Northern Alberta, Canada is burning to the ground and needs your help.

The community of Wood Buffalo is surrounded by Boreal forest which becomes highly flammable throughout the dry summer months. If there is any heat, the muskeg ground holds it in and the fires can transfer easily. Overnight, the forest fires that were stated to be under control quite literally spread like wildfire.

Doubling in size and jumping the river that flows into the city, within the span of only a few hours on May 3, Fort McMurray was surrounded by a vicious and dangerous situation, and the entire city had to be evacuated.

Fort MacMurray

Photo Credit: Mix 103.7 Holly Ayearst

Shocked, terrified and confused, thousands helplessly watched as they abandoned their burning homes. We have very limited access out of the city and for a few terrifying hours, the main route out was closed because of gas stations that exploded from the flames.

To update you on the current status, as I type this on May 4, because of the hard work of emergency responders, 88,000 people were safely evacuated and as it stands, there are no reported fatalities. We only hope and pray that number only climbs and that all lives are spared.

However, due to high temperatures and winds, officials expect that the worst of the fires is yet to come. We are not out of danger, and there are men and women working tirelessly around the clock, putting their lives on the line to defend and protect Northern Alberta from a monstrous fire.

The city is ash, soot and flame. Our homes are gone. What we knew is literally up in smoke. We have limited resources, and we need your help. We are a strong community, and we have a strong community focus. We need that support we’ve shown to thousands to be reciprocated to us.

13103543_1017326448314386_6026018758759314564_nWe have countless individuals and communities banding together to help Fort McMurray out, but we need your help because there are literally thousands of people who have lost their homes, and are still trying to reach safety. Without you, what the heck do we do once we “get there?” Everything we had is gone.

However, at the Noralta Lodge evacuation site north of the city, out of devastation and chaos came the miracle of life through the birth of 2 babies. If nothing else, I believe this is a strong testament to the protection over our lives, as well as the tenacity to live, persevere and thrive.

Sylvain Bascaron:CBC

The aftermath. Photo Credit: Sylvain Bascaron/CBC

Friends, we as a community have strong hearts and by the grace of God we will persevere and rebuild. But we are hurting and we are without homes. Please pray. Please help. Imagine the stories that would come if we united as one and helped/loved our neighbour.

There is beauty from ashes.


How You Can Help

  • Donate to the Red Cross at any London Drugs location or online by using this link. You can also text REDCROSS to 30333 to make a $5 donation.
  • Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society are looking for specific items: diapers, baby wipes, NEW toiletries (such as soap, shampoo, tampons, toothpaste etc.) and NEW socks and underwear. Bring your donations directly to ERS and NOT Northlands. They are located at 10255 104th Street. If you’d like to volunteer with ERS, please call 780-428-4422 and leave a message if you can’t get through.
  • Sign up at to be matched with someone in need of housing, rental properties, etc.
  • Edmonton’s Food Bank is accepting donations at major grocery stores and fire halls. You can also donate online.
  • You can connect with evacuees on the Fort McMurray Evacuee Open Source Help Page
  • Calgary Radio Station: How You Can Help Fort Mac

Photo Cred: The Canadian Press/Kitty Cochrane

Mix 103.7:Holly Ayearst

Photo Cred: Mix 103.7/Holly Ayearst


People literally fleeing for their lives. Photo Cred: The Canadian Press/Jason Franson


Photo credit: Bradley Karp via Pete Potipcoe

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10 Responses

  1. Cathie says:

    I just donated to the Red Cross by text. It couldn’t be easier.

  2. Leanne Kent says:

    I just donated to the Red Cross at Thrifty Foods and they are matching donations!

    • Courtney says:

      Thank-you so much for your generosity. This is hitting a different nerve with me today and I feel very sombre and heavy-hearted, and from what I am seeing, the same bereft feeling is shared by the other evacuees. The kindness and love shown to us from complete strangers is overwhelming and moving.

      Thank-you for reaching out and helping, your emotional support alone is enough to help through this time.

  3. CB says:

    Hang in there Courtney! Your UVic fam is with you all the way! Have you heard about the UVic Bake Sale? Staff will be baking up a storm to help out.

    Wednesday, May 11th
    9 am – 1 pm – University Centre
    10 am – 2 pm – Administrative Services Building Room 220

    All proceeds will be going to the the Canadian Red Cross Fort McMurray Relief Fund

    • Courtney says:

      I will be sharing this information! I am so touched by everyone’s contributions and messages of love and support! Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you!! I love my city and even in our pain we are STILL rallying around each other and used our own misfortunes to reach out to others who are worse off than us within the community. If it wasn’t evident before, it is Blatantly obvious now that This really is who we are! No-one is alone in this.

      Thank-you UVic friends for helping me and my city. We are all so overwhelmed by the support and love of people within Canada and literally worldwide coming to our aid.

  4. Babak says:

    I also donated with text and it was super easy, encourage you all to do that.

    Also relevant poem from Sa’adi:

    Human beings are members of a whole,
    In creation of one essence and soul.
    If one member is afflicted with pain,
    Other members uneasy will remain.
    If you have no sympathy for human pain,
    The name of human you cannot retain.