University of Regina serves as temporary home for Northern Ontario wildfire evacuees

The University of Regina has taken in evacuees from Pikangikum First Nation after leaving their homes from continuing wildfires in Northern Ontario.

The Canadian Red Cross began registering evacuated residents Thursday on campus and are planning to help guests with services and other programs as they continue arriving.

It was estimated that 400 evacuees were scheduled to land in the Queen City on Thursday with more coming Friday.

Cindy Fuchs, the vice-president of the Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan, met with media outside of the Paskwāw and Wakpá Towers at the university where some of the Pikangikum residents will be staying for the time being.

Red Cross volunteers such as Fuchs are planning activities for adults and children to keep them busy during their stay on campus.

She had a chance to talk about the evacuees once they arrived by buses to their temporary homes.

“They’re tired and happy to have a bottle of water, but on the other hand, they seem to be quiet and are accepting that this will be their home for the next few days,” she said.

“When you’re coming across the country from a couple of provinces over, it has to be worrisome for them.”

The university is prepared to take in 500 people while 150 will be staying in hotels throughout the city. Once Regina reaches its limit, Saskatoon and Prince Albert will be next for wildfire evacuees.

Even though Fuchs hopes evacuees can return to their homes soon, she added that Canadian Red Cross volunteers are preparing for their stay to extend for “up to a month”.

The Canadian Red Cross is in good shape in terms of resources, but people are encouraged to sign up as a volunteer by emailing [email protected] for this and future disasters.

The province began accepting evacuees following an agreement made earlier this week between the governments of Saskatchewan and Ontario.

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