About a month ago, Ruby Nanaout got a notification on her phone that she should be prepared and pack a bag of important items in light of increasing wildfire activity in the Northwest Territories.
She had been living in an apartment in Fort Smith with her husband and son. A couple of weeks after the first notification, her phone showed a more dire one, alerting her to evacuate.
“Everybody started getting ready,” recalled Nanaout, originally from Chesterfield Inlet.
Her husband and son left first with three students from the college, while Nanaout stayed behind one day as an essential worker as a housekeeper in the hospital. The next day, Sunday Aug. 13, she evacuated with a co-worker at noon, heading on the highway to Hay River.
“Just when we were almost in Hay River, our phone went off and the alert went on and said Hay River was evacuating as well, so me and my co-worker were like, ‘what?’”
So they fuelled up – luckily finding an open gas station quickly – and the evacuation continued south, heading to High Level.
Nanaout met up with her family in High Level, continuing on to Peace River and arriving at a hotel past midnight. She had been on the road fleeing the fires for 13.5 hours by the time she got to the hotel.
“The highway was long,” recalled Nanaout. “There were probably 10,000 evacuees from Fort Smith and Hay River.”
The next day, she was on the road again and headed to Grande Prairie, where she made it to the evacuation centre. She waited six hours in line but eventually got her number called and went through the process to get accommodations and meals.
“Everyone is tired and stressed because of all this,” recalled Nanaout. “Like what are we going to do, what’s our plan? I think everybody’s going through that at the moment.”
Thankfully, people were very supportive, she said.
“Even people who I don’t know will come up to us and tell us where to go, what to do,” said Nanaout. “There’s a lot of support. Everybody’s supporting each other.”
Since the evacuation, she and her family have been in Grande Prairie, playing the waiting game.
“It was a tough journey,” she said. “It was scary. You could see the fires on the way to High Level, leaving Hay River.”
She had even heard of a car and camper that caught fire on the drive.
Asked if the experience changed her or what she would do if it happened again, Nanaout said, “I have no idea. I don’t know what I would do the next time. But I hope I will never experience it again.”
As of talking to Kivalliq News, Nanaout and her family were being taken care of in Grande Prairie as they waited for news of when they could return home.
“All we have to do is wait patiently,” she said. “We’re safe. That’s all that matters.”
ᑕᕿᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᒥ, ᐅᓗᐱ ᓇᓇᐅᑦ ᓇᓗᓇᐃᖅᑕᐅᖃᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᐳᖅ ᐅᖃᓘᑎᕋᓚᒥᒍ ᐱᕙᒌᔭᖅᓯᒪᓪᓗᐊᕐᓕᕐᒥᓂ ᐸᕐᓇᒃᓯᒪᓗᓂᓗ ᐊᓂᕆᔭᕐᒥᓂ ᐱᖁᑎᓂᒃ ᐱᔾᔪᑎᒋᓪᓗᒍ ᐃᑯᐊᓚᔪᖅ ᐊᖏᒡᓕᕙᓪᓕᐊᓂᖓᓂ ᓄᓇᑦᑎᐊᕐᒥ.
ᐅᕙᑦᑎᖃᖅᓗᓂ ᐊᑐᖅᑐᐊᒐᒥᒃ ᕗᐊᑦᔅ ᓯᒥᑦ-ᒥ ᐅᐃᖓᓗ ᐃᕐᓕᖓᓗ. ᒪᕈᑦ ᐱᓇᓱᐊᕈᓯᖅ ᐊᓂᒍᖅᑎᓪᓗᒍ ᓇᓗᓇᐃᖅᑕᐅᓚᐅᕐᓂᓂ, ᐅᖃᓘᑎᕋᓛᓂ ᓇᓗᓇᐃᖅᓯᓪᓗᓂ ᐱᕕᖕᓂᖅᓴᐅᓪᓗᓂ, ᕿᒪᖁᔭᐅᓪᓗᓂ ᓄᓇᒥᓂ.
‘’ᑭᓇᓕᒪᖅ ᐸᖅᓇᓯᕗᖅ’’, ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᓇᓇᐅᑦ, ᐃᓗᓕᒑᕐᔪᒥᐅᑕᒃᓴᔭᒃ.
ᐅᐃᓂ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᕿᑐᖓᓂ ᐊᐅᓪᓚᖅᖄᓚᐅᖅᑐᑦ ᓯᕗᓪᓕᐅᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᐱᖃᑎᖃᖅᖢᑎ ᐱᖓᓱᓂ ᓯᓚᑦᑐᖅᓴᕐᕕᖕᒧᑦ ᐃᓕᓐᓂᐊᕆᐊᖅᓯᒪᔪᑦ, ᓇᓇᐅᑦ ᐅᓪᓗᖅ ᐊᑕᐅᓯᖅ ᐊᐅᓚᖏᓚᐅᑲᒃᖢᓂ ᐱᓕᕆᔨᒪᕆᐅᖃᑕᐅᒐᒥ ᓴᓗᒻᒪᖅᓴᐃᓂᕐ ᐋᓂᐊᕐᕕᖕᒥ. ᖃᐅᒃᑎᓪᓗᒍ, ᓯᕙᑖᕐᕕᖕ ᐊᒌᓯ 13, ᕿᒪᒃᓯᖃᑕᐅᓕᖅᖢᓂ ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᖅᑎᖃᑎᒥᓂᒃ ᓂᕆᓐᓇᒥ, ᐊᖁᑎᑯᑖᒃᑯᑦ ᐃᖏᕋᔪᑦ Hᐊᐃ ᕆᕗᒧᑦ.
‘’Hᐊᐃ ᕆᕗ-ᒧᑦ ᑎᑭᐅᑎᑦᑎᐊᓕᖅᖢᑕ, ᐅᖃᓘᑎᕗᑦ ᐊᔪᓕᖅᖢᑎᒃ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᓇᓗᓇᐃᖅᑕᐅᓕᕆᓪᓗᑕ Hᐊᐃ ᕆᕗᒥᐅᑦ ᕿᒪᒃᓯᑎᑕᐅᖕᒥᖕᒪᑕ, ᐃᖃᓇᐃᔭᖅᑎᖃᑎᒐᓗ ᐅᖃᓚᐅᖅᑐᒍᑦ ‘’ᖃᓄᖅ?’’
ᐅᖅᓴᒃᓴᖅᖢᑎᒃ – ᓇᓂᓯᖤᑐᐊᕋᒥᒃ ᐅᖅᓱᖅᑖᕐᕕᖕᒥ ᖃᓂᑦᑐᒃᑯᑦ – ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑲᔪᓯᓕᖅᐴᒃ ᕿᒪᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᓂᒡᒋᖅᐸᓯᖕᒧᑦ, ᖁᑎᒃᑲᓂᕐᓂᖅᓴᒧᑦ.
ᓇᓇᐅᑦ ᑲᑎᖃᑎᖃᖢᓂ ᐅᐸᒃᓯᒪᕝᕕᒋᔭᖓᓂᑦ. ᑲᔪᓯᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᐱᔅ ᕆᕗ-ᒧ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᑐᔪᕐᒥᕕᖕᒧᑦ ᑎᑭᖦᖢᑎᒃ ᐅᓐᓄᐊᖓᓂ 12. ᐃᖏᕋᐃᓐᓇᖅᖢᓂ ᐊᖁᑎᒃᑯᑦ ᑲᑎᖦᖢᒍ 13.5 ᐊᑲᕋᓄᑦ.
‘’ᐊᖁᑎᑯᑖᒃ ᑕᑭᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ, ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ ᓇᓇᐅᑦ. ‘’10-ᐸᓗᑦ ᕿᒪᑎᑕᐅᓚᐅᖅᑐᑦ ᕗᐊᑦᔅ ᓯᒥᑦ-ᒥ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ Hᐊᐃ ᕆᕗ-ᒥ.’’
ᖃᐅᖕᒪᑦ, ᐃᖏᕋᓯᒃᑲᓐᓂᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᕕᕋᓐ ᐱᐅᕆ-ᓕᐊᓕᖅᑐᖅ ᑕᐃᑯᖓ ᕿᒪᕝᕕᐅᕕᓕᐅᖅᑕᐅᓯᒪᔪᒧᑦ. ᐃᑲᕋᓄᑦ ᖁᓕᓄᑦ ᐅᑕᕿᓚᐅᖅᑐᖅ ᓇᖏᖅᖢᓂ ᓇᐃᓴᐅᑎᓂ ᑕᐃᔭᐅᓇᓱᒃᑎᓪᓗᒍ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐊᑐᕆᐊᖃᖅᑕᓂ ᐊᑐᖅᖢᓂᐅᒃ ᑐᔪᕐᒥᕕᔪᑎᒃᓴᓄ ᓂᕆᔪᑎᒃᓴᓄᑦ,
ᑭᓇᓕᒪᖅ ᑕᖃᖓᔪᖅ ᐊᒻᒪᓗ ᐃᓱᒪᓗᒃᖢᑎᒃ ᑕᒃᓱᒧᖓ ᐱᓪᓗᒍ,’’ ᓇᓇᐅᖅ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ. ‘’ᖃᓄᓂᐊᓕᕋᑦᑕᓕ, ᑭᓱ ᐸᕐᓇᒃᐸᕗᑦ? ᑭᓇᓕᒪᑦ ᐊᑐᖅᓚᐅᑲᒃᓯᒪᖂᖅᑕᓂ ᒪᓇᐅᔪᖅ.’’
‘’ᖁᔭᓕᕗᖅ, ᑭᓇᓕᒪᖅ ᐃᑲᔪᖅᓱᐃᓚᐅᕐᒪ. ᑭᓇᓕᒪᖅ ᐃᑲᔪᖅᑎᒌᒃᖢᑎᒃ.’’
ᕿᒪᒃᓯᐊᓪᓚᓚᐅᖅᖢᑎᒃ ᑯᕋᓐ ᐱᐅᕆᒥᓯᒪᓕᖅᑐᑦ, ᐱᖑᐊᖅᑐᑦ ᐅᑕᕿᓪᓗᑎᒃ.
‘’ᐊᔪᕐᓇᓵᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᑐᖅᑕᕗᑦ,’’ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ. ‘’ᑲᐱᐊᓇᓵᖅᑐᖅ. ᑕᑯᔪᓐᓇᖅᖢᑎᒍ ᐊᑯᐊᓚᔪᐊᓗᒃ ᖁᑦᑎᓈᖅᑐᒃᑯᑦ,
ᕿᒪᓕᖅᖢᑎᒍ Hᐊᐃ ᕆᕗ.’’
ᑐᓴᓚᐅᕆᓪᓗᓂ ᓄᓇᓯᐅᒻᒥᑦ ᐃᑯᐊᓚᓕᖅᑐᒥᒃ ᐃᖏᕋᑎᓪᓗᒋ.
ᐊᐱᕆᕙᕋ ᐊᑐᓚᐅᖅᑕᓂ ᐊᓯᔾᔨᖅᓯᒪᖔᑦ ᐅᕝᕙᓘᓃᑦ ᖃᓄᐃᓇᔭᕐᒪᖓᑦ ᐊᑐᑲᓂᕈᓂᐅᒃ, ᓇᓇᐅᖅ ᑭᐅᕗᖅ ᓇᓗᓪᓗᓂ. ᖃᐅᔨᒪᓇᔭᖏᑦᑐᖓ ᑭᖑᓪᓕᕐᒥ. ᑭᓯᐊᓂ ᐊᑐᓚᐅᖅᓯᒪᑲᓂᔮᖏᐸᕋᑐᖅ.
ᐅᖃᓪᓚᒃᑎᓪᓗᒍ ᐱᕙᓕᐊᔪᓕᕆᖦ ᑭᕙᓪᓕᕐᒥ, ᓇᓇᐅᑦ ᐃᓚᖏᓪᓗ ᑲᒪᒋᔭᐅᕗᑦ ᕕᕋᓐ ᐱᐅᕆᒥ ᐅᑕᕿᓪᓗᑎᒃ ᖃᖓᑯ ᐊᖏᕋᕈᓐᓇᓯᓇᔭᕐᒪᖔᕐᒥ.
‘’ᐅᑕᕿᑦᑎᐊᑐᐃᓇᕆᐊᖃᖅᑐᒍᑦ,’’ ᐅᖃᖅᐳᖅ. ᐊᑦᑕᕐᓇᖏᑦᑐᒦᑦᑐᒍᑦ. ᑕᒪᓐᓇ ᐱᒻᒪᕆᐅᔪᖅ.’’