This week, my province experienced unspeakable tragedy when one of our cities was overcome by a wild fire. The photos and videos coming out of Fort McMurray are absolutely insane.
The loss and devastation is overwhelming. Neighbourhoods are lost and my Facebook feed is filled with people looking for their loved ones or their pets. Thankfully, no lives were lost due to the fire at the time of this writing and only two deaths happened during the evacuation (though, what an immense heartbreak for their families).
What has been amazing to me, though, is the outpouring of support from the rest of Alberta and Canada. At the time of this writing, CTV Edmonton reported $30 million dollars donated through Red Cross Canada, which is insane since it’s been three days. People all over our nation have come together to support Fort McMurray.
This was not the case just a mere week ago. Fort McMurray gets a bad rap in these parts because it’s an oil town (but let’s be serious, which cities in the prairies aren’t oil towns). It has a reputation for being a town you can make some serious cash before heading back home. The people there, according to its reputation, are rough and tumble with too much money to burn. For some environmentalists, Fort McMurray symbolizes what’s wrong with our world.
But then we saw the sheer number of families, of regular people like you and I, fleeing their homes in the desperate hope that nothing with have changed by the time they return. Our perspective changed. We saw nursing staff evacuate a hospital with nothing but their scrubs and wallets.We saw children being born in evacuation sites.We saw a principal driving students on a bus overnight to get them to safety.
Suddenly, it’s changed from us vs. them to all of us together. There are still those jerks out there who have decided to politicise this tragedy (seriously, you need to shut up right now), but they are the minority. Nearly everyone is helping in some way. Syrian refugees, people who have lost everything, find something to give. Quebec has sent firefighting planes. Those are two groups that many Albertans have hated on pretty ruthlessly, yet they have sent us help. We have been so blessed.
It took a tragedy as enormous as the devastation of a city for us to come together. So I ask that once this city has been resurrected and the fire all but forgotten for those of us who haven’t lived through it, remember how our country came together. Remember it when you think that everyone just takes from Alberta, but never gives. Remember it when politics divides us. Remember it when it looks like people are just plain selfish. We have the capability to be generous and selfless and united.
The Red Cross Canada is still accepting donations. Donate online here or text “Redcross” to 30333 on your cell phone to donate $5 which will show up on your next phone bill.