When thousands of people were forced to flee their homes, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers donned their red vests to take care of them.
The wildfires in northern Saskatchewan sparked the largest evacuation in provincial history and through it all, you could find teams of men and women in red vests helping people.
Christine Hoffman spent the last week of the evacuation working at the University of Regina.
“It’s so great to get to work directly with the clients who appreciate everything you do so much,” she said. “You get to share stories and you try to make their stay as pleasant as you possibly can.”
Hoffman has been involved with the Red Cross for about 21 years but she only started responding to specific disasters five years ago. She says every disaster is very different, but each time, she is amazed the resilience of the people who are impacted by floods or fires.
“I was impressed by the people here, some of them have been away from home for almost a month and their ability to see the bright side and share laughs, and they’re able to keep their humour up,” she said.
Hoffman says the last day is always the best part because everyone is happy to be going home.
“The sleepless nights and the tireless hours that you put in, those smiles, the hugs and the gratification at the end,” she described, saying that’s what makes everything worthwhile.
Hoffman says she was first attracted to volunteering with the Red Cross by the old slogan “across the world and across the street”. In 2010, disaster really did strike for Hoffman across the street during the floods of Maple Creek.
“You see the floods or the fires on TV but when it hits home in your own community, you really feel that piece and it’s great to know that there is an organization like the Red Cross standing behind you to support it,” she said.
Now every time she puts on that red vest, Hoffman says she feels empowered knowing she is helping people.