Canadian wildfires hit Indigenous communities hard, threatening their land and culture


Noah Berger, Associated Press

Carrol Johnston, who lost her home in a May wildfire, walks through her property in the East Prairie Metis Settlement, Alberta, on Wednesday, July 4, 2023. Johnston, who has been living in a nearby town, is awaiting a modular home so she can return to the land.

EAST PRAIRIE METIS SETTLEMENT, Alberta - Carrol Johnston counted her blessings as she stood on the barren site where her home was destroyed by a fast-moving wildfire that forced her to flee her northern Alberta community two months ago.

Her family escaped unharmed, though her beloved cat, Missy, didn't make it out before a ''fireball'' dropped on the house in early May. But peony bushes passed down from her late mother survived and the blackened Mayday tree planted in memory of her longtime partner is sending up new shoots - hopeful signs as she prepares to start over in the East Prairie Métis Settlement, about 240 miles (385 kilometers) northwest of Edmonton.

''I just can't leave,'' said Johnston, 72, who shared a home with her son and daughter-in-law. ''Why would I want to leave such beautiful memories?''


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