The wildfires in Fort McMurray have left many residents homeless, and a number of them are Filipinos who have been living and working in Alberta for years.
Mayee Ramirez and her co-workers rushed home to their families when the fires broke out. They said they told their managers that they needed to go home and they were given rides, but when they got to their areas, they couldn’t continue in their rides because of the visibility, so they set on foot. Ramirez and other Filipinos have moved to Edmonton and are asking for help.
“Sana matulungan kami kasi totally, wala kaming dala-dalang mga damit at siyempre, wala na kami maging mga trabaho, wala na kaming babalikan sa Fort McMurray. May katrabaho ako from Abbott side, iyung mga bahay nila doon talaga ay sunog na,” she said. (“We hope people can help us. We were not able to bring clothes, and we don’t even have jobs and nothing to return to in Fort McMurray. I have a friend from Abbot side and even their homes are burned down,” she said.)
Mark Ancheta and other Filipinos, have decided to stay in Fort McMurray to provide help in any way possible. He said that most of those who work in restaurants, hotels and convenience stores are Filipinos. “If there are no more Filipinos in fort McMurray, it will be a dead town because everyone else is working in the oil patches,” Ancheta adds.
Other Filipinos in Calgary are worried about friends and co-workers trapped in Fort McMurray, and they wish they could do something for them.”Right now actually, it’s devastating for me because I talk to those people and I don’t know where they are right now,” Calgary resident Amado Fabrig said. Philippine Consul General Julius Torres has been in touch with some of the victims. He said that the Philippine government will extend their help to the Filipinos.
“We are letting our kababayans who are temporary workers in Fort McMurray and other nearby towns know that they just need to tell us if they are in need of assistance and what their needs are so that we can help,” Torres said.
Filipino organizations and communities in Alberta are organizing fundraising events to help the victims affected by the wildfire. The Canadian Red Cross is also collecting donations and the federal government announced that it will double all contributions to the Red Cross for Fort McMurray.
For updates and information on donations, please visit the The Filipino-Canadian Association of Fort McMurray, Alberta on their Facebook page.