Wildfires continue to disrupt First Nations, fire records

Wildfires continue to burn across half the country fuelled by heatwaves and the dry conditions they create.

Most provinces have seen double or nearly double their fire totals from last year as well as yearly averages.

Ontario has reported 1,121 fires compared to just 566 the year before, with this year’s mark also beating the 10-year average of 698.

It has more than 100 wildfires burning, forcing the evacuation of another First Nation to London, Ont.

“The ministry can confirm that 347 community members from Wabaseemoong Independent Nations remain in host communities,” said Ontario officials.

Begin returning

“It is anticipated that they will begin returning to their community tomorrow.”

Five other First Nations in Ontario have been able to return home. They are Pikangikum, Deer Lake, Cat Lake, Poplar Hill and North Spirit Lake.

Manitoba has 124 active wildfires, with 17 out of control.

“Currently there are two First Nations that are out of their homes that we’re currently supporting,” said Jason Small with the Canadian Red Cross in Winnipeg, “that’s Little Grand Rapids First Nation and Pauingassi First Nation.”

Last week, Small said people from Berens River, Bloodvein, Tataskweyak and Nisichawayasihk all returned home.

First Nations

“So now we just have the folks from the two First Nations; they’re all staying in hotels in the Winnipeg area, and right now it’s about 1500 people we’re supporting,” he said.

Small noted that an emergency shelter set up a few weeks ago has been dismantled after not being needed.

In Saskatchewan, as of Wednesday afternoon, there were 88 active wildfires, with six not contained.

The province has seen 560 fires to date – more than double its five-year average of 268.

Further west, Alberta only has 33 active wildfires, but it already recorded 1,132 fires this year.

Nearly doubled

Compared to last year’s total of 704, it has nearly double the amount this year. Alberta’s five-year average is 1,346 fires.

British Columbia has 262 wildfires burning and is asking tourists to avoid affected communities.

To date, B.C. has seen 1,527 wildfires – more than double its 2020 total of 670. This year’s total is also higher than the 10-year average of 1,352.

The Trans-Canada Highway between Lytton and Cache Creek remains closed because of a mudslide caused by rain and wildfire activity.

As of Tuesday, there were more than 100 evacuation orders and alerts in B.C. that affected over 9,000 properties.

The Prairies and West Coast were expected to get a little bit of relief with some rain in the forecast over the next few days.

Reporter / Winnipeg

Darrell is a proud member of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. He is a graduate of the television program from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton. He is returning to APTN after having completed an internship with us in 2018 and a brief stop as a reporter in B.C. in 2019.