As forest fires raged across Northwestern Ontario earlier this month the Métis Nation of Ontario’s (MNO) Region 1 leadership sprang into action to assist MNO citizens in need.

On Wednesday, August 11, 2020 the announcement was made to evacuate the Red Lake area. The majority of evacuees were sent to Dryden and Kenora, some evacuated to Thunder Bay and others chose to stay closer to home in Ear Falls or other areas of Northwestern Ontario.

Regional Councillor Theresa Stenlund immediately called together the leadership of the four MNO Community Councils in the Region: Northwest Métis Council; Kenora Métis Council; Sunset Country Métis Council; and the Atikokan Métis Council to form a plan of action.

The leadership in Dryden and Kenora worked closely with the local municipal authorities to support evacuated MNO citizens and their families. The City of Kenora provided shelter for Seniors that were evacuated, while the City of Dryden worked with the MNO leadership in Dryden to assist evacuees any way they could.

The four Councils agreed to commit emergency funds to assist MNO citizens that were displaced. When Regional leaders advised the MNO of the evacuation and updated them on their response plan, the MNO committed further funds and staff support to assist. Point persons were established for quick responses to rapidly changing circumstances.

“Our region came together as a whole to ensure our citizens were looked after. There was no hesitation from any of the four Northwestern Ontario councils to be ready to assist our northern neighbours, friends and family in their time of need. The councils were on standby, waiting to provide any assistance they could.” said Theresa Stenlund.

“Our Northwest Métis Council was happy we were able to connect with some of our Red Lake citizens,” said Northwest Métis Council President Janet Hiphner. “We were able to share some hugs and were grateful to hear some of their stories. I would like to thank Linda Robinson for assisting me with contacting the citizens and aiding in gathering the supplies.”

“I want to thank and commend the leadership of our Northwestern Ontario Regional Métis Community for their quick response in assisting the Métis families affected by this evacuation in their time of need” said President Margaret Froh, adding, “In stressful times like these, having community members be there for each other truly makes all the difference.”

As of August 16, 2020, evacuees have been advised that they are able to return home to Red Lake.

Posted on August 20, 2020