Thank You From Your McMurray Magazine
I grew up as a lot of people do...hearing stories about Fort McMurray, but never experiencing it for myself. The first time I flew over the region I was absolutely taken aback by its beauty; and when I landed, it was the beauty of the community and the people in it that really had an impact.
Working remotely from Fort Saskatchewan, I’ve been back and forth to Fort McMurray a handful of times, but during those times it has come to feel more and more like my second home. There are so many people I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past few years; I’ve come to respect and love them, not only as colleagues, but as friends.
And so on May 1st when I got word that Krista and her family were being evacuated from their home, I was on alert. Being so far away I relied on social media to keep me in the loop, and I never took my eyes off of it. Our team kept working as though things were normal, but we truly had no idea what was to come.
On May 3rd it became clear that things were changing quickly, and my attachment to the community became real. I sat watching accounts of the horror on social media, tears streaming down my face. I shared whatever information I could for our followers on social media, relying on the stellar work of people at Country 93.3 and the RMWB. I was so grateful to be safe where I was, but terrified and guilt-ridden at the same time.
I knew I couldn’t sit by and just re-tweet things, so I joined a group of amazing volunteers in Fort Saskatchewan, loading trucks with fuel, food, diapers…whatever we could…and sending them up Highway 63 to meet the people who were stranded on their way to safety. The next few days were spent at the Legion where a reception centre was set up. We sorted a seemingly endless supply of donations, doing our best to comfort evacuees as they streamed in. It was comforting to do something…anything.
But as the days wore on, it became clear to our team at YMM Magazine that there was something else we needed to prepare for: telling the stories that came from the wildfire.
Just as the Challenger explosion of 1986, Black Friday – the tornado that ripped through Edmonton in 1987 – and the events of September 11, 2001, The Beast has become another incident that my generation will never forget.
We knew this would be the biggest, most important issue of the magazine to date. We planned it all out, re-planned, and finalized it all again. It’s been an ever-evolving process, but one we knew we couldn’t shy away from.
We put the call out to anyone who was interested in sharing their stories or photographs, and the response was overwhelming. The stories were heart-wrenching, painful, inspiring, and hopeful. The pictures were vivid and dismaying, and, quite frankly, at times, hard to look at.
Because of the astounding response we received, we regrettably couldn’t include every submission. It served to really highlight once again, though, what an amazing community Fort McMurray truly is: full of talented and giving hearts.
We’ve divided this commemorative issue into four sections: Messages, The Story, We Will Rebuild, and We Say Thanks. Come along with us on this journey of desperation and hope. Remember with us and be filled with optimism. Together we are #FortMcMurrayStrong.
On behalf of the team here at Your McMurray Magazine, I’d like to extend a huge thank-you to not only the writers and photographers whose work has been featured in this commemorative edition but also to the ones whose work you don’t see here. As well, we will forever be grateful to the advertisers and supporters of this special commemorative edition. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.