An evacuated family of five from La Ronge is facing an extra struggle after having a baby just one month ago.
Kristen Mckenzie’s husband works at a Cameco mine in McArthur River. She is a stay-at-home mom who just finished university. In early June, when their newborn was five days old, they had to evacuate to the south because of smoke.
The couple also has two five year olds. When the second round of La Ronge evacuations were announced over a week ago, the family had to make another trek to Saskatoon. They’ve been staying at the Travelodge there.
“It’s been a little hard but I’ve had my mom and my husband supporting us,” Mckenzie said. “With our one-month-old, I don’t really like taking him out too much, but we’ve had enough of staying in one area, we needed to get out.”
That’s when the family decided to visit the Cameco and Friends Kids Carnival for evacuees at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert this week. Part of the benefit was being away from the larger city of Saskatoon, and being around familiar faces of friends and family in Prince Albert.
Of her five-year-olds, she says it can be tough to be away from home.
“They can’t handle staying in one area for too long, we gotta keep them entertained,” Mckenzie said. “I told them about face painting, and that’s all they had on their minds.”
Even though they had a fun break, Mckenzie said it’s hard not to think about what’s going on back home.
“It’s scary watching some of the videos that we’ve been watching on Facebook and the news,” Mckenzie said. “[I’m] just trying not to worry too much and think positive about everybody doing their job back home.”
“There’s not much we can do over here, as long as we have faith that they’re fighting the fires and hopefully we get to go home soon.”
With no end in sight, they’re trying to be patient.
“It’s not good news to hear that it’s going to be longer to get back home but I guess the main thing is safety,” Mckenzie said.
She said she doesn’t want to go back to La Ronge and be evacuated again, since it’s the second time they’ve been evacuated this month.
“We’re hoping we can go home and stay home,” Mckenzie said.
Evacuees making do
Sharon Charles from Stanley Mission has been away from home for the past nine days. She and her three sons (aged two, seven and nine) were part of the health-priority evacuation due to their young ages.
With fire looming in on their community, things aren’t looking up.
“I packed for a few days but then after we got here the fires got worse,” Charles said. “So now the roads are closed and we can’t go back until the roads are open.”
She they’ve been well looked after.
“We’ve got more than enough help trying to make us as comfortable as we can while we’re away from home,” Charles said. “We’ve been getting a lot of help from the Allen Bird Memorial. We were able to go get clothing and plus food vouchers from Red Cross.”
Her kids have been handling the situation extremely well, she said.
“They’ve been keeping busy, they’ve been good,” Charles laughed. “They think it’s just a visit.”
She was also at the carnival earlier in the week. Charles’ youngest son was content running in circles in a secluded area of the arena while her older children were able to get into line-ups for bouncy castles, games, and popcorn.
Still, she said there’s really no place like home.
“I miss home, I miss my bed,” said Charles.
– With files from Chelsea Laskowski
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