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Slave Lake wildfire survivor sends good vibes and $500 Tim Hortons donation to NWT evacuees

In the wake of wildfires consuming great swaths of the Northwest Territories, acts of kindness and generosity are shining through.
A $500 donation has been made to Tim Hortons in Slave Lake, Alta., to help NWT evacuees enjoy a warm meal while they’re so far from home. Kaicheng Xin/NNSL photo

In the wake of wildfires consuming great swaths of the Northwest Territories, acts of kindness and generosity are shining through.

Christina Cooper, a resident of Slave Lake, Alta., stepped forward to support NWT evacuees by donating $500 in the form of a Tim Hortons gift card.

Neri Castillo, manager at the Slave Lake Tim Horton’s, said Cooper contacted him on Aug. 18 to make the arrangement.

“She wanted to give back to the community based from her (wildfire) experience in 2011,” said Castillo.

He explained that Tim Hortons staff members simply ask customers if they are from the NWT and then use the $500 gift card to pay for their food and drinks. There is no limit on how much can be used from the gift card per order.

“We don’t check their ID,” said Castillo. “They just need to tell us that they are from the Northwest Territories and that’s good, because I don’t want them feel bad about it. And, at the same time, that is a building of trust.”

Cooper reflected on mid-May of 2011, when she was evacuated from her home in Canyon Creek due to an out-of-control blaze. She lost her family residence and three vehicles, including an antique she had inherited from her father. The total estimated loss was around $1 million.

Despite the overwhelming challenges, Cooper expressed gratitude for the support she and her family received during that time. She emphasized her desire to pass along that support to others facing similar situations.

Cooper recalled that six out of eight residences on the same road where she lived in Canyon Creek were razed by the fire.

“And we tried to go to a safe place, but, similar to the Northwest Territories, there’s one road in and out. Because the other ones were blocked by fire, they were trying to route us back down the way we came, and I knew at that point my house was already on fire, so I didn’t want my children to see that,” she said, overcome with emotion more than a decade later.

With the loss of her property as well as cherished personal memorabilia during the fire, she’s still living with the trauma.

“Right now, when I saw the smoke, I just could not to stop thinking about it,” said Cooper, “Until you go to make the turkey dinner and realize you don’t have a turkey baster or you go to make cupcakes for your kids and you don’t have a cupcake pan, it hits you every single time, and it still sends chills through me, and it is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) for everyone.”