The premier of the Northwest Territories was in Red Deer to express gratitude to the city for helping those who were evacuated from their homes due to wildfires.
On Friday, Premier Caroline Cochrane met with City of Red Deer officials and visited the city’s reception centre for evacuees at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre.
“Albertans have been so gracious (and) have gone above and beyond to help people,” Cochrane said.
“I could never express how grateful I am.”
Cochrane is currently located in Edmonton as an evacuee, but will be travelling to the locations where other from the Northwest Territories have been evacuated, including Calgary and Leduc.
“I’ll be here (in Alberta) as long as our evacuees are here,” she said.
“When a community is evacuated, we need to leave that to the firefighters and the people that know what they’re doing. Sometimes politicians get in the way. I’m here, 70 per cent of our population is here and I will stay with them until they can return home.”
Cochrane said the Northwest Territories needs 10 days of hard rain to battle the wildfires.
“If you’re religious please pray for us. If you’re spiritual please pray for us. If you can financially afford even a dollar, please contribute to the cause,” she said.
The City of Red Deer’s website states people can make donations to the Canadian Red Cross or Central Alberta Humane Society to support evacuees. Donations to the Red Cross can be made online at redcross.ca or at the local Red Cross Office (105 – 5301 43 St.). Donations to the Central Alberta Humane Society can be made online at cahumane.com.
Efforts from communities like Red Deer show that through hardships, Canadians can rely on each other, Cochrane said.
“That’s the message I want to carry. When in need people help each other,” she said.
“People were scared on the ground, people were not sure what was going on. I watched people in long lineups, all they had were the clothes on their back. In honesty, it was hard for me to see.
“But one thing I did know: all through what people were going through – their own trauma, their own worry – people were kind to each other.”
Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston praised Cochrane as a leader during her visit to Red Deer.
“This is a leader who I would argue has had little sleep and little rest in terms of how she’s leading forward,” said Johnston.
“For her to come (to Red Deer) to say thank you this afternoon means a tremendous amount to me and our entire citizenry.”
On Thursday, the city’s reception centre reached its capacity of 1,000 registered evacuees. The centre was initially opened on Aug. 17.
Evacuees looking for other reception centres, can look up current availability through the Province of Alberta: www.alberta.ca/northwest-territories-wildfire-evacuation#reception-centres.