#AlbertaStrong: The REAL Reason to Love Canadians

I am a proud Canadian.  I’m a girl who embraces words like “Sorry” and “Eh“.  I love my Timmies double double, weekends camping, a good hockey game and bbq’ing steak in 3 feet of snow.  We are the destination for mountain and ocean adventure, dog sledding and trail conquering, wine tasting and lake tubing.  We have sea views, cityscapes and wide open spaces.  We are white collars, blue collars and dog collars.  We are passionate, respectful and fun loving people and thanks to the fact the we truly embrace diversity, we have history, art, music and food that reflect cultures from around the world.

But do you know what is truly at the heart of being a Canadian?  It’s the unrelenting support for our fellow Canucks.  In light of the increasingly dangerous, and still expanding #YMMFire just several hours north of where I live, this has never been better demonstrated.   Fort McMurray, is an economic hub not only for Alberta, but for Canada.  It’s the heart of oil country, and climate change fanatics are welcome to keep reading at a courteous distance.  It is a city that employs thousands, and it is common place for families to to say a tearful goodbye as a spouse or parent heads to “Ft Mac” for a two or three week shift.  It’s an economic reality in our country, so many loved ones separated by miles in order to make a living, the distance a necessary heartache in order to put food on the table and provide life in an increasingly expensive world.  And now many of these hard working people are facing the reality that the roof under which they worked or raised their family no long exists.


1,560: Square kilometers that have burned so far.  88,000:  Displaced evacuees.  On May 3rd, in an alarmingly quick turn of events, a massive fire ravaged an entire city.  First, you must understand the logistics of Fort McMurray to fully comprehend.  Towns in Alberta are widespread and somewhat isolated, and in Fort McMurray, there are two major roads:  One road north, one road south….and the highway south at a dangerous point, became closed.  Horrifying images fit only for a movie scene; miles of vehicles escaping a city under complete evacuation, passing thru walls of fire reaching towards the sky, every inch surrounding terrified families completely engulfed.  Families unable to gather photo albums and clothing, let alone pets or food or even gas.  Stories and photos of hundreds of vehicles, terrified passengers stranded along the highway as fuel ran out.

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Escaping the Fort McMurray Wildfire, Photo via @630CHED

So what is it that overshadows all of this terror and destruction?  That’s simple.



88,000 people fled with just the clothes on their backs, but they were heading to open arms of complete strangers.  Within moments of the evacuation, support began and #AlbertaStrong rang load and clear.  Alberta citizens emptied shelves of water and food, and not a gas can sat empty as residents rallied and filled truck boxes and trunks to head to those in need.  Folks with hardly a penny themselves found ways to purchase emergency supplies, driving hours north towards the chaos, to set up in parking lots to hand out supplies and food, the “Jerry-Can Angels” driving the highways to put gas into the tanks of fellow Albertans.  Offers of meals, holiday trailers, acres to park on and empty beds to lay weary heads have poured in by the thousands.

Major companies like Labatt, with a brewery here in Edmonton, mobilized to produce 200,000 cans of drinking water.  Westjet, a much loved Canadian airline supplied rescue planes, providing free flights to Edmonton and Calgary, as it helped evacuate not just the hospital, but thousands stranded North of the fire….including rescued pets who got to ride first class with passengers.

Lists of businesses offering free meals, free haircuts, gift cards for necessary toiletries, space to set up and reconnect to a still working world become increasingly longer.  Community pools and recreation centres providing free swimming and fun so that families can enjoy a few moments of laughter amid the tears of loss and confusion.  Financial institutions and Vehicle Companies offering to defer payments while residents  get their lives in order.  The YEG Mayor flipping pancakes downtown and the sweet little faces with the lemonade stand set up, or the little girl offering up her allowance, all in the name of strangers in need.

Resident 7
Via Deanna Collins. Deanna, we heart you and Ellie.


To the people who put their lives on the line, the ones who helped evacuate an entire city, the ones who are exhausted, yet refuse to give up in fighting to save what they can.  As they say, “Not all superheroes wear capes”, we heart you.

Firefighters and Heroes, Via Krista Forbes Embertson UE, Facebook


To the families of the two lives lost in the crash during evacuation, our hearts are beyond heavy for your loss, and we send you love, strength and prayers.

To Lisa Hilsenteger, the angel of a principal who loaded the kids on the school bus in order to escape and be reunited with their families, every parent hearts you.

To those who saved and have housed the lives of so many animals.  We heart you.

To the countless volunteers driving, delivering, purchasing, sorting….so many they had to request no one else show up….we heart you.

To the residents of Fort Mac.  We are here, and we aren’t going anywhere soon.

Alberta 4

And the rest of our country following suit, filling massive trailers with supplies headedfor Alberta, those donating millions to the RedCross, sending social media messages of love, prayer and support for their fellow countrymen. THIS is what it is to be Canadian. THIS is the real reason you need to visit our country, as you will never encounter a population of people as warm hearted or embracing of others.

THIS is #AlbertaStrong.


If you would like to help, you can donate to the Canadian Red Cross HERE.

Love and prayers,



**I have done my best to credit the photos from where they came.  If I have incorrectly given mention on any, please accept my sincerest Canadian “Sorry”, and I will rectify or remove.  My only intention is for the power of good, love and hope.
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11 thoughts on “#AlbertaStrong: The REAL Reason to Love Canadians

  1. That’s an amazingly well written article, thank you for brightening my day. With all of the horror coming out of Ft Mac, it is a very hard thing for many affected families, it is nice to know that 99.9% of our country are behind them. I have seen a lot the last few days, and my friends were up there. I myself have been Albertan my whole life, living just south of Edmonton. We have sent up several donations from our small town, and several people to help with pets and food and water. I hope everyone is praying for these people, religious or not, they sure could use the well wishes. What makes me the most happy in all of this is knowing that all of the Syrian Refugees we have taken in are going above and beyond to help their new fellow Canadians, and Albertans who are in this mess right now, they know what it takes to be #ALBERTASTRONG and I won’t ever forget the goodness that comes from our country in such times of need. To be there for each other no matter your faith, or beliefs, or background, is the most Canadian thing to do of all. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for reading and your heartfelt sentiment (another true and proud Alberta!) It’s quite remarkable how everyone is pulling and rallying, rays of hope in a dire situation. Cheers to you and your family for your support and we’ll wishes!

  2. I’ve spent a lot of time around Canadians in my time going to school at Niagara Falls, but it’s that kind of pride, love, support, and good-natured spirits that has really made any interaction with the great northern neighbor of mine so special.

    This article was fantastically written, and those who have supported those in need deserve all the praise, support and literal contributions that we can spare. Those in need deserve the recognition for their strength in continuing on, and spreading the word about their situation. No one deserves to have their lives torn apart, but to have such a strong community is truly a beautiful things.

    The photo of the $5 attached to the child’s note really got me watery-eyed. It’s easy to see where the child gets his/her compassion, tho.

    Keep doing what you do so well, Amy, and #AlbertaStrong will continue on.

    1. Thank you for reading and for sharing such heartfelt words! It’s such a difficult situation, but it’s simply amazing to watch strangers come together, especially under such tense and negative circumstances. I appreciate your support so much!

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