Thank You South Africa


I wrote about the wildfires in Alberta, in and around the Fort McMurray area when it first began. That was a month ago. When I wrote on May 6, the fire covered 850 square kilometers. At that that time I thought that was an extremely large area. It now covers 5,800 square kilometers and has spread to the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. It has grown nearly seven times in size.

There are currently 2,292 firefighters either battling blazes across Alberta or are en route to do so – including nearly 200 people from the United States and crews from across Canada. Firefighters in Alberta are being supported by 90 helicopters, 273 pieces of heavy equipment and 20 air tankers.  According to an update by the province on Sunday, 14 active wildfires continue to burn in Alberta – however, only the Fort McMurray fire remained out of control.

~Edmonton CTV New

Things are slowly shaping up, though. We don’t hear much about the fire any more. There is also a plan to begin a voluntary phased re-entry of evacuees today. In the areas least effect by the fire, people are being allowed to return. However, there is still great caution to return so soon. Especially those with young children and those with respiratory issues.

However, something caught my eye on Monday when DW and I were out on a lunch date (the boys were in school so we had lunch at Tim Hortons). On the front page of the newspaper, The Globe and Mail (link to the actual article), was a headline about 300 firefighters from South Africa going to Fort McMurray to help fight the fires. Intrigued, I started reading.

It’s the largest non-military deployment of South Africans to a foreign country.

It turns out this deployment reaps two benefits. First, it is a sort of repayment of a debt, a thank you to Canada for support in South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle. However, it’s also changing the lives of the 300 fire fighters sent to help battle the wildly out of control blaze. These young men and women were jobless. They were recruited for a government program called “Working on Fire” which has now trained 5,000 fire fighters to work across South Africa. They have sent Canada 300 of them.

After a month in Canada, they will take home the equivalent of about $1,500 each. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s 10 times more than their normal monthly stipend in the training program. It will help many of the firefighters to get out of shacks and build new brick houses, get driver’s licences or enter postsecondary education.

It may or may not be what they need to tame the beast that is the wildfire, but it will be a great help. They will help extinguish the fiery fields and raise the hopeful spirits of both the Canadian firefighters and the recruits from abroad.

Thank you South Africa.



Fort Mac On My Mind

The world hasn’t gone to shit. It’s still a good place, regardless of what the popular opinion might be. I’ve never been one to follow the crowd anyway. I was the only one rockin’ the parachute pants and neon shirts in middle school and I loved it. So, when I say the world is a good place full of good people, you can believe me.

There is a major wildfire out of control in Fort McMurray, Alberta Canada. It’s grown 8 times in size in the last 24 hours to cover 850 square kilometers.

AB wildfire map

The size of the wildfire as of 11 pm Thursday

As of right now, the fire is spreading south, away from Ft. McMurray. A change in wind direction is all that’s needed for that to change. They’ve enforced a mandatory evacuation of the entire city. 90,000 people told to leave their home and find safety elsewhere. Where do you put 90,000 homeless people?

Good citizens answered that question. They offered space in their own home. They opened their doors to strangers in a time of need. People with a room or two or more to spare have taken in people with nowhere to go. They have bought supplies ranging from deodorant to pet food. Fitness centers are allowing evacuees to use their showers. U-Haul is offering evacuees boxes and a free month of storage. Labatt Breweries says it will donate 69,000 cans of drinking water, and has 131,000 more at the ready if needed. Red Cross is ramping up its call centers to deal with the influx of monetary donations.

Not long ago, Canada took in thousands of Syrian refugees. They are now returning the kind heartedness by stepping up to help the evacuees. People who had next to nothing just months ago are now helping those who have nothing. I’d say they are more Canadian than some of the Canadians we know.

Because, believe it or not, some have tried to make this political. Some have not been so kind. These are the people who hate those who work in the oilsands. Who hate those who drive the big gas guzzling trucks. They have no sympathy for the people who have just lost everything. They can’t empathize. They have total disregard that these are human beings just like themselves who work and eat and live just like the rest of us.

To borrow someone else’s words…

I’ve been seeing a lot of disgusting comments floating around the internet, so I just want to put this out there:

You can hate big oil if you want to.
You can even hate Alberta in general for supporting big oil.
You can hate people who drive gas-guzzling trucks.
You can hate people who support communities that rely on oil.
You can have all the feelings you want about global climate change, and “dirty” industry, and the people who make that industry a reality. You might even have some good points hidden in there.

But if you take those feelings and you turn around and use them to call down people who have just had their entire lives taken away from them, people who are absolutely terrified, people who don’t know where their family members are, who have no idea when or if they’ll ever get to go home… If you take your hatred for an IDEAL and an INDUSTRY and place that hatred on the HUMAN BEINGS who are currently going through hell and back…you are a vile, disgusting creature; I refuse to even refer to you as a “person”. Kindly take your high horse and ride it off somewhere where you don’t have to offend good people with your ignorant, asinine bullshit.

~Tracey of NoPageLeftBlank


There are good people out there. There are still far more good people than evil. As with any catastrophic event some people run away. However, there are always people who run to help. While 90,000 citizens evacuate the city, there are fire fighters, paramedics, RCMP and countless others staying behind to help bring this beast under control. They are trying to protect what hasn’t yet been lost. They are people we know, family, friends, our friends family and friends.

Bruce blessings @CH_Cartoon 

Rain will be the only vanquisher of this beast of fire. It hasn’t rained in For McMurray for quite a while. There is no expected rain in the forecast for the next two weeks. It rained here in Nova Scotia today. It rained all day long and it’s going to rain all night long. I won’t complain. The kids were restless and wiry from being cooped up in the house all day. I won’t complain because at least we have a house. The roads were slick with puddles. I won’t complain because at least I have a vehicle to drive. My kids drive me nuts sometimes. I won’t complain because at least I know they’re safe.