By Jim Mountain
Like Canadians throughout the country, I’ve been deeply worried about the people affected by the wildfires sweeping through Fort McMurray over the past few weeks. This event has touched people my colleagues and I work with throughout Canada.
A few days ago, I wrote to Roseann Davidson, the Executive Director of the Fort McMurray Heritage Park to make sure everyone there was okay and to ask whether the Heritage Park was affected. Thankfully, they are safe and it seems that the Heritage Park, a museum en plein air of buildings and other artifacts, has been spared, but they are not sure of the condition. For the people working at the Heritage Park, this is the second disaster in three years. In 2013, a flood hit, which they have taken time to recover from, and now this.
My experience with northern communities is that, although their built heritage is relatively recent, the people involved in cultural heritage are extremely dedicated to telling their story. In the case of Fort Mac, it’s one that extends back to paleolithic times almost 10,000 years ago. They have done good work.
The heritage community has a key role to play in re-building the sense of community after any crisis and in this case, I think it’s important to show our support for the people affected. The strength of Fort McMurray’s community and the resilience its people have shown is inspiring.
To the people of Fort McMurray, my heart goes out to you.
Jim Mountain is the Director, Regeneration Projects with the National Trust for Canada.