‘Hold people in your prayers and they’ll be fine’

Published May 19, 2011

St. Peter’s Ecumenical Church in Slave Lake, was spared from the wildfires that ravaged two-thirds of the town.

As soon as word got out that evacuees fleeing the wildfires of Northern Alberta needed a safe haven and support for basic needs, Anglicans along with members of host communities immediately rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

Colleen Greer, warden of St. Mark’s, High Prairie, informed local officials that evacuees were welcome to get clothes for free from the parish’s secondhand clothing store. “The community just started dropping off clothes,” Greer told the Anglican Journal in a phone interview. “The response was phenomenal.”

The Rev. Joanne Schellenberger, rector of St. Mark’s, said High Prairie welcomed 1,265 evacuees from various communities affected by the wildfires, including Slave Lake, Red Earth, Whitefish and Gift Lake. St. Mark’s is one of three distribution points where clothing and shoes are being given to evacuees.

“High Prairie always comes through,” said Greer. “People just opened their arms and everyone that comes is having basic needs met, even to the point that we had church service last night.”

In Athabasca, volunteers from All Saints Anglican church, trooped to the Athabasca Multiplex, which was set up to house more than 700 evacuees from Slave Lake, to help out.

The Rev. Greg Lynn, rector of All Saints, said volunteers help clean the facilities, prepare food, and distribute clothes, bedding and toiletries donated by the community, including parishioners.

Greer said the evacuees in her area are “doing very well” and “their spirits are good,” particularly because they have told that they might be able to go back to their homes on Friday, May 20. “Sunday and Monday they were kind of bewildered. They had no idea when they were going home and some had to leave very quickly,” she said. “They were in shock.” One evacuee told her that her trap line and cabin had been burned.

Greer asked Canadian Anglicans to “hold the people in your prayers and they’ll be fine.”

Alberta experienced 68 new wildfires over the weekend. Evacuation alerts, road closures, and evacuation orders were issued in the communities of Slave Lake, Wagner, Canyon Creek, Widewater, Loon River, Marten Lake, Little Buffalo and Fox Creek.

Donations to the relief efforts can be made by phone, c/o, Jennifer Brown, 416-924-9192 ext. 355; 1-866-308-7973. Do not send your credit card number by email or fax. By mail, cheques should be payable to PWRDF, Alberta Relief and sent to: The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, The Anglican Church of Canada, 80 Hayden Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 3G2


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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