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N.W.T. Wildfires 2023: Updates & Relief Information

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

Summary

Hundreds of wildfires caused by unprecedented heat and dry conditions due to climate change are raging all across the Northwest Territories. Until now, the estimated burn area is equivalent to four times the size of P.E.I. (1) and the fires are quickly moving closer to Yellowknife, the capital of N.W.T. (2). As a result, both Yellowknife and the N.W.T. have declared a state of emergency and issued multiple evacuation alerts (2).


Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes as fires cut off highways and essential services such as communications. So far, evacuation orders have been issued for the communities of Hay River, Kátł'odeeche First Nation, Fort Smith, Enterprise, and Jean Marie River (3). The community of Enterprise, a town near Hay River, N.W.T. is said to be “90 percent gone” (3).


Indigenous communities are being disproportionately impacted by wildfires in so-called Canada. Although nearly 5 percent of “Canada’s” population identifies as Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, or Inuit), more than 42 percent of wildfire evacuations have been from communities that are more than half Indigenous (5). Similarly, nearly 50 percent of the N.W.T. population is Indigenous (4).


Community members can access cabinradio.ca for live updates as well as the Active Fire Map to view the location of the fires.


Relief Links

Mutual Aid for Dene and Cree Evacuees from Yellowknife, N.W.T: costs will cover gas, vehicle repairs, oil, food, tobacco, and pet crates for those who are ineligible for the limited government supports available. This type of relief is preferred over donations to non-profits because they go directly toward the hands of those in frontline communities. Please e-transfer peytonastraker@gmail.com


N.W.T. Emergency Response: United Way N.W.T. is collecting donations to support communities impacted by the wildfires and help them respond to the damage they have experienced.


If you have any further relief information or relevant community updates about this developing situation, please email suyc@shakeuptheestab.org


Sources

  1. CTV News. Alberta-N.W.T. wildfires burn area 4 times the size of P.E.I.; flames creep closer to Yellowknife [Internet]. CTV News. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 16]. Available from: https://www.ctvnews.ca/climate-and-environment/alberta-n-w-t-wildfires-burn-area-4-times-the-size-of-p-e-i-flames-creep-closer-to-yellowknife-1.6521088

  2. Carroll L, Lamberink L. Wildfire threat to Yellowknife deemed serious as parts of city on evacuation alert [Internet]. CBC. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 16]. Available from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nwt-premier-update-wildfires-1.6937511

  3. CBC News. Enterprise, N.W.T., ’90 percent gone’ after wildfire ravages community [Internet]. CBC. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 16]. Available from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/enterprise-damage-wildfire-1.6936652

  4. Aquino L. Canada’s Northwest Territories declare a state of emergency as more than 230 wildfires rage [Internet]. Grist. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 16]. Available from: https://grist.org/indigenous/in-canada-indigenous-residents-flee-fires-northwest-territories/

  5. Webber T, Berger N. Canadian wildfires hit Indigenous communities hard, threatening their land and culture [Internet]. AP News. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 16]. Available from: https://apnews.com/article/canada-wildfire-indigenous-land-first-nations-impact-3faabbfadfe434d0bd9ecafb8770afce


Positionality Statement: Hello/Bonjour, my name is Angelo and I use he/they pronouns. I currently reside on the stolen and occupied lands of the Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Coast Salish peoples in what is known as "Vancouver." I voluntarily immigrated to these lands to pursue higher education, have the ability to exist and be openly Queer, and learn more about the social-ecological poly-crises of our time. I moved here from my home city of Mexico City, where my ancestors also settled in search of a better life. Mexico City is another site of European colonization and centuries of plunder. In both places and many more, I benefit from being a white-passing Latinx person. My mixed ancestry comes from Western and Southern Europe (what is currently known as Switzerland, Spain, and Greece), the Levantine region (Lebanon), and what is currently known as Mexico. Given my privileges as a white-passing settler, I never intend to speak on behalf of any communities mentioned within this work, but rather to use my privilege to address the injustices of social-ecological issues and mobilize for positive community-centered change.




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