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  • Writer's pictureFNHSSM Communications

Wildfire Evacuations Reflections from FNHSSM's Turtle Team

Reflecting on the events of July 10, 2023, we are reminded of the incredible power that emerges when a community comes together in the face of adversity. During this challenging time, the Misipawistik Cree Nation (MCN) community displayed resilience, unity, and adaptability when dealing with the recent wildfire evacuation while supported by the collaborative efforts of the FNHSSM Turtle Team and the Canadian Red Cross.


Upon reaching the Viscount Gort Hotel in Winnipeg, MB, our dedicated FNHSSM Turtle Team staff welcomed MCN community members with open arms and the comforting embrace of a temporary home. One touching account of the event comes from an Elder who sought solace in traditional medicine during those uncertain days away from home. The Turtle Team was able to provide the traditional medicines she requested. She was accompanied by her son who also uses traditional medicine, and he shared some of his knowledge with the Turtle Team. Her son's herbal knowledge introduced us to alternative healing methods, opening the door to future medicine-picking journeys.


Another heartwarming story revolves around a relative who was in unfamiliar surroundings and found comfort through a thoughtful smudge kit provided by our Turtle Team. This small gesture allowed him to release negativity and be grounded.


Throughout Misipawistik Cree Nation relatives' stay at the hotel, Turtle Team members worked together, offering care and assistance in numerous ways:

  • Turtle Team childminders stepped in to support a mother by assisting and setting up a game system that brought entertainment to her children during their stay.

  • Turtle Team Cultural and Family Support Departments prepared activity kits that were shared across common areas, bringing a sense of normalcy and joy to the children and youth.

  • The Turtle Team organized a movie extravaganza complete with popcorn and an array of snacks.

  • The joy of shared meals cannot be underestimated; The Turtle Team assisted in serving meals in a group setting (which included alternative meal options) ensuring that everyone could partake in the heartwarming experience of communal dining.

  • As the days away from home progressed, the Turtle Team’s availability of snacks provided a nice treat to break up the day.

In matters of healthcare, the FNHSSM Turtle Team went above and beyond, acting as vital bridges between community members, the nursing station in Grand Rapids, and local pharmacies. Swift action ensured that urgent medication needs were met, serving as a lifeline for those reliant on prescriptions. The Turtle Team assisted families to gain access to the Jordan's Principle program which also played a pivotal role by alleviating the burden for a mother seeking assistance in securing medications for her son.


In conclusion, the evacuation has vividly demonstrated the strength and abilities of the FNHSSM Turtle Team, to work in collaboration with MCN leadership and the Canadian RED CROSS, as they facilitated the relocation of the Misipawistik Cree Nation Elders and other community members to Winnipeg, MB. The FNHSSM Turtle Team staff were honoured to work with leadership and community members and were humbled to witness the exceptional spirit, unity and resilience of their people.


For more information or to contact the FNHSSM Turtle Team, please email: TurtleTeam@aia.fnhssm.com


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