Urgent Call to Support Communities Impacted by Wildfires

Wildfires continue to cause destruction and displacement across Turtle Island. 

While RAVEN posts typically focus on Indigenous legal updates, we are taking a moment to ask our supporters to turn their attention to the crises unfolding for many communities and neighbours. 

We are calling on the RAVEN community to help support those who are most affected by the wildfires and to help amplify accurate reporting on evacuation alerts and orders in the wake of Meta’s ban on news in Canada. 

To put the magnitude of this emergency into perspective, reports suggest the area of the wildfire from Alberta to the Northwest Territories, spans 4x the size of P.E.I. The wildfires gaining momentum have caused the ongoing evacuation of Yellowknife’s 20,000 residents, along with 8 smaller communities who have already been forced to abandon their homes and belongings. Enterprise, a small community of about 100 people has almost completely lost all homes and businesses. 

Those remaining in Yellowknife and the surrounding area are being increasingly surrounded, and the road out of the city has the potential to be cut off by flames if the fire is to increase, with it currently being about 16km from the city’s edge. Residents are meant to be fully evacuated this (Friday, August 18) afternoon.

Additionally, a wildfire in West Kelowna grew overnight and it continues to expand, putting more lives at risk, and actively engulfing more land, trees, and homes.

Picture from CBC News (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The Vancouver Sun shares that the fire expanded 100x in size, in just 24 hours. This has caused the City of West Kelowna and WestBank First Nation to declare a state of emergency, and evacuation zones continue to increase throughout the area. 

Destruction to crucial infrastructure in these communities only furthers the risk to those already displaced. Many are seeing irreversible damage from the loss of homes, resources, and ways of life. 

Hearing the wildfires be described as ‘unprecedented’ summer after summer seems to be numbing many of us to the gravity of the situation. However, this statista graph offers an alarming visualization of the increase in land burned and just how unprecedented this is.

Meta’s block on Canadian news has made it not only difficult to fundraise and support communities affected, but evacuees and surrounding communities have more barriers to seeing up-to-date and accurate information without news available on their social media platforms. This is a safety risk. 

The next 48 hours are said to be “the most challenging of the summer.” For folks facing evacuation or in the surrounding areas, we urge you to listen to your local radio stations, and continue to check local news media for alerts and evacuation orders. 

For folks outside of wildfire zones, we urge you to support those who are providing immediate and emergency relief to areas impacted by the wildfires. Here are some alternate places to donate:

NWT Emergency Response – United Way Northwest Territories 

BC Wildfire Recovery Fund | United Way British Columbia (uwbc.ca)

2023 Canada Wildfire Fund Appeal – Canadian Red Cross 

Local Friendship Centres facing evacuation:  Society (kafs.ca) SEFC | Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre (sefcnwt.com) Home | Tree of Peace Friendship Centre (ttopfc.com)

Climate and wildfire grief resources: 

Recovering emotionally after a residential fire (apa.org)

Addressing and Coping with Climate Grief: 

Eco-grief: How to cope with the emotional impacts of climate change | News | University of Calgary (ucalgary.ca)

Featured image: Google Maps

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