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The Long Haul in Fort McMurray

By DarrenRD – File:Landscape view of wildfire near Highway 63 in south Fort McMurray.jpg, CC BY-SA 4.0,

June 22, 2016

By Simon Chambers

Bishop Fraser Lawton of the Diocese of Athabasca recalls that the Great Slave Lake fire occurred 5 years before the wildfires devastated Fort McMurray this year.  The Diocese of Athabasca, with funding from PWRDF, continued to provide support to Great Slave Lake for years after the fire.

“We will be responding in Fort McMurray for the long haul,” he said in an interview with PWRDF.  The primary work will be done by the parishes of St. Thomas and All Saints, both located in Fort McMurray.

To date, PWRDF has raised $81,818 for relief efforts in the wake of the fires, which caused the largest evacuation in Alberta’s history- 90,000 people living in and around Fort McMurray fled their homes to escape the blaze.  Episcopal Relief and Development, our sister-agency in the US, has sent a further $6414 to PWRDF for relief efforts.

In the coming weeks, months and even years, the parishes in Fort McMurray will help their community to recover from the fires.  One significant part of that recovery will involve psychosocial support- helping people to cope with the emotional and spiritual pain, fear and anger they may be feeling.  They are looking into running summer camps this year to help local children address their experiences, and to provide a break to parents who are dealing with re-starting their jobs and homes and lives.

PWRDF will continue to support the Diocese of Athabasca on the long road of recovery from these fires.  We, like Bishop Lawton, are in this for the long haul.

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