Rain welcomed after wildfire forces Innu out of Quebec community

Five days after being forced to leave their Innu community of Mani-Utenam, residents returned home happy to see the rain.

But three forest fires continue to rage a few kilometres north of the community.

Signalling another stressful evacuation may be ordered.

“I was in Baie-Comeau at Hotel Travelodge with a bunch of people [when] we heard the announcement all together,” said Omer St. Onge.

“We were happy; we shouted, ‘We’re going home!’ It didn’t take five minutes for our things to be packed. Then off to Mani-Utenam.”

St. Onge said his family didn’t like leaving their home undefended from the raging fire.

Francois Legault, Quebec’s premier, was in nearby Sept Iles to assess the damage, and thank firefighters.

He also praised the Innu community of Pessamit for taking in the evacuees.

“What is important to say is that we are – and this is rare that we say this – very, very happy to see the rain. We would like it to be the same in other places like [the region of] Abitibi.”

Marielle Vachon, the chief of Pessamit, said she was impressed with how her community rallied to help others after experiencing a similar crisis.

“I’m proud of Pessamit,” said Vachon. “It gives me great pride to see that our people work together very well.

“They know the situation. They were really there with mutual aid.”

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