McMurray Wildfire: Métis Resilience and the CKK

A year has passed since wildfire consumed 590,000 hectares of northern Alberta causing an estimated $3.58 billion in damage and forcing mass evacuations. McMurray Métis local 1935 was significantly impacted when its office burnt to the ground, many community members lost their homes.

Along with the loss of their local office, their material documents, and community records, McMurray Métis were forced to move their offices to Edmonton, temporarily, due to the surrounding devastation. Luckily, they had been digitizing and uploading these records to the CKK since its adoption in 2013. Weeks before the fire, McMurray Métis had completed backing up their traditional land use research and consultation data as well as archiving many historical photographs. With their data securely backed up on the CKK on Kwusen’s servers and the opening of the temporary office in Edmonton, McMurray Métis were able to continue the important work they do for their community only weeks after the fire.

“Having the CKK helped us in several ways in returning to work after the fire. First, we knew that our research, community, and consultation data was safe and backed-up and we could access and use it as needed. Second, we could continue to do TLU point reviews of new and updated projects within our CKK, which gives us quick and easy access into seeing how projects intersect with community land use.” – Jennifer Gerbrandt, Regulatory Advice and Heritage Research, McMurray Métis

In addition to having continuity in the regulatory process, some community members, who lost their homes and all of their possessions, were able to get reprints of precious photos from the CKK. The McMurray Métis Photo Archive Project had just been completed, meaning that these irreplaceable memories were safely stored prior to the fire.

Community based support and development programs that bridge across First Nations and Métis communities in the region are at the forefront of recovery and rebuilding. McMurray Métis, the Athabasca Tribal Council, the Red Cross, and the Wood Buffalo Recovery Task Force are working together to rebuild the communities in the region affected by the fire, both materially as well as culturally and spiritually. They are also working on studying the ways that the wildfire has and still is affecting Aboriginal people in the region.

McMurray Métis staff, board, and members have been working very hard since the wildfire to rebuild and help each other. The McMurray Métis weekly programming, Métis festival, golf tournament, Elder’s Christmas dinner, as well as their 30th anniversary celebration, are all symbols of strength and recovery. McMurray Métis would like to thank all of the members, individuals, and organizations, and businesses who have donated time, funds, and supplies to help with the rebuilding of our office and community.