Last Wednesday, Public Safety Canada and National Defence accepted a request for federal assistance with the evacuation of the Pikangikum First Nation community due to heavy smoke from forest fires. We’re currently assessing the situation on the ground to determine the best way we can support the evacuation.
On Thursday, Pikangikum First Nation reported that it required immediate evacuation of their vulnerable population due to heavy smoke from fires blowing east of the Manitoba border affecting public health and wellness.
Evacuation flights began on May 30 and continued on May 31. A contingent of Canadian Rangers is also on site to help get evacuees to the airport and assist with getting them onboard aircraft. More than 200 residents were evacuated to Thunder Bay on the first day, with many more being taken to safe neighbouring communities as the operation progresses.
“We will continue to assist the province of Ontario with evacuation efforts tomorrow at their request. The exact number of evacuees and where they will be hosted cannot be confirmed at this time but will be directed to us by the province of Ontario,” says Captain Jenn Halliwell, Public Affairs Officer, 1 Canadian Air Division. “At this time, we have evacuated a total of approximately 1,765 members of the community via Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130 Hercules aircraft at the request of the province of Ontario.”
The Province of Ontario remains the overall lead on evacuations from Pikangikum First Nation, and also has civil aircraft assisting in the effort.
We will continue to work with our Province of Ontario counterparts until there is no further need for emergency military support.