Forest fires force residents off Ontario reserve

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the diocese of Keewatin was evacuated from Kingfisher Lake. Photo: Marites N. Sison
Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the diocese of Keewatin was evacuated from Kingfisher Lake. Photo: Marites N. Sison
By on July 22, 2011

Smoke from raging forest fires near Sioux Lookout in northern Ontario has forced the air evacuation of residents of the Kingfisher Lake reserve. Among the almost 200 people airlifted out was the Rt. Rev. Lydia Mamakwa, northern Ontario area bishop.

The evacuees were prioritized according to age and need, with elders, the disabled, people with respiratory ailments and mothers with young children among the first to leave.

“Two planes, each carrying about 90 people, left yesterday and one was scheduled to leave today,” said the bishop in a telephone interview. “It was unable to land twice because of poor visibility, possibly due to the smoke.”

The reserve is very isolated and has no access roads in summer. “In winter there are ice roads,” said Mamakwa. She is uncertain how long it will be before residents can return.

The bishop asked people to remember the evacuees in their prayers.

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  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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