One of our first concerns after leaving Fort McMurray was the need for water to drink. We had left home in such a rush we did not have any with us. Stops at small stores garnered not one drop. In a crisis situation such as this the first things to sell out is cases of water, bread, and milk. We were fortunate to be travelling with friends who were more than generous with their supplies, including water. I had worked that day, which left little time – and I do not buy cases of water as a rule. The draining of water aquifers in small communities across the country by companies such as Nestle angers me. But that is another issue; a topic for a future blog perhaps.
We had first headed for Anzac, a small community 20-25 km from the city and felt we would be safe there. Our first step was to go to the local grocery store for supplies – no water! The next morning we were hearing stories about how the fire had spread during the night and after discussions with our friends decided to vacate the area. We headed down the road to a campground at Christina Lake feeling sure we were far enough away from the wildfires to be safe. While there we contacted the Red Cross and thanks to their prompt response we received water, food, and other essentials. Which brings me to the point of this blog – water is, of course, necessary for all life forms. I cannot help but think of all the news stories I have read reporting on the lack of safe, clean drinking water in many First nations communities and asking myself “Why?” Why in this day and age in a country as rich in resources as Canada has this happened? The answers are tied up with all the issues caused by our colonist past, and again, fodder for future blogs….
I cannot imagine life without all the amenities I take for granted. Turn on the tap and there’s water. Flick a switch and there is light. I live in a comfortable house. I have more clothing than I need. Even during this time of evacuation with all its frustrations, stress, and challenges – we have been provided with all the necessities of life. Having this experience has given me new insights and rekindled my passion for human rights. I hope lessons learned from the tragedy of Fort McMurray will move us forward as a society. I know our city will rebuild and come back stronger than ever. I hope it will also cast our eyes toward all First Nations communities so that they too will have all the necessities of life, including safe water.