June 12, 2019
Evacuation orders have been lifted for Bigstone Cree Nation and the Hamlets of Wabasca-Desmarais, Sandy Lake and Chipewyan Lake. More than 3,700 people are now able to return home.
To date, more than 9,800 evacuees from the following communities have been approved to return home:
- High Level
- Mackenzie County
- Dene Tha’ First Nation
- County of Northern Lights, south of Twin Lakes Campground including Notikewin
- Marten Beach (MD of Lesser Slave Lake)
- Keg River/Carcajou
- Peerless and Trout Lake communities
- Bigstone Cree Nation 166 A, B, C and D
- Municipal District of Opportunity 17
- Hamlet of Wabasca-Desmarais
- Hamlet of Sandy Lake
- Hamlet of Chipewyan Lake
Evacuees returning received re-entry packages with advice on what to do when they arrived home.
Evacuees can find tips on re-entry by visiting https://www.alberta.ca/emergency.aspx. Information includes making sure all your utilities are working, cleaning up and how to deal with door-to-door salespeople offering services and insurance.
Approximately 700 evacuees are displaced due to a mandatory evacuation order for Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement.
The following communities remain on evacuation alert:
- Bigstone Cree Nation 166 A, B, C and D
- Hamlet of Wabasca-Desmarais
- Hamlet of Sandy Lake
- Hamlet of Chipewyan Lake
- County of Northern Lights
- North of Township Road 910 to the north county border, including the Twin Lakes Campground, Keg River, Carcajou and the Town of Manning
- Chuckegg Creek wildfire, southwest of High Level, is about 269,648 hectares.
- Jackpot Creek wildfire, approximately 11 kilometres north of Lutose, is about 28,167 hectares.
- McMillan Wildfire Complex, southwest of Bigstone Cree Nation, is more than 263,969 hectares.
- Battle Wildfire Complex in Peace River is about 55,179 hectares.
- There are more than 2,000 wildland and structural firefighters and staff, approximately 159 helicopters and 22 air tankers and 233 pieces of heavy equipment on these fires.
- Check Alberta Emergency Alerts for more detailed and frequently updated information.
- People driving in fire-affected areas should carry enough fuel, as it may not be readily available.
- Be cautious of organizations not registered to solicit donations. For information on how you can help, visit https://www.alberta.ca/emergency.aspx.
Visit alberta.ca/emergency for detailed and frequently updated information.
- Parts of northwestern Alberta are under a special air quality statement, including High Level, Peace River and Wabasca.
- Visit FireSmoke Canada for information and resources about smoke from wildland fires.
- Evacuees should check alberta.ca/emergency for updates on evacuation payment eligibility.
- Evacuees in need of financial assistance for immediate needs can apply for an Income Support program emergency needs allowance. This benefit may cover your accommodation, clothing and other urgent needs. Please call 1-877-644-9992 for more information.
- You may qualify for the evacuation payment if you:
- were living, working or vacationing in the affected area
- were forced to leave due to an evacuation order
- paid for most of your costs to evacuate
- were forced to leave your residence (primary, working or vacationing) due to a mandatory evacuation order – current communities include:
- High Level
- Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement
- Bushe River
- Meander River
- Bigstone Cree Nation 166 A, B, C and D
- Sandy Lake
- Chipewyan Lake Village
- Keg River
- Northern border of the County of Northern Lights to Township Road 922 (Notikewin Road)
- Steen River
- Trout Lake
- Albertans who qualify will receive $1,250 and $500 for each dependent child under 18 living in the same home when the evacuation order was given.
- Application methods:
- Apply online through the MyAlberta Evacuation Payment application using a smartphone, device or desktop. Interac e-transfers may take 24 hours to process.
- All payment distribution centres are now closed.
- If you need help applying, contact Alberta Supports to find the nearest centre: Toll free: 1-877-644-9992 (Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.) In-person: Find an Alberta Supports Centre.
- More than 11,400 individuals have received evacuee support totaling close to $11.6 million.
Reception and call centres
- All evacuees should register with an evacuation reception centre, even if you’ve found alternate accommodations.
- Reception centres are assisting evacuees either in person and/or by phone:
- Evacuation reception centre hours can be found at alberta.ca/emergency.
- The Government of Alberta contact centre is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. Call 310-4455.
- To stay informed on all road closures due to the wildfires, visit 511.Alberta.ca or download the mobile app.
- Most home and tenant insurance policies provide coverage for living expenses during an evacuation.
- Evacuees should retain all of their receipts for food, accommodation and other related expenses to provide to their insurer.
- Albertans can contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada at 1-844-227-5422 or by email at email@example.com. Information about insurance coverage is available online at ibc.ca/ab/disaster/alberta-wildfire.
Justice and legal matters
- Community Corrections and Release operations have resumed in High Level.
- High Level Court is open.
- Chateh Court matters will be heard in High Level Court until further notice. Call 780-926-3715 for inquiries.
- Fort Vermilion Court matters have resumed. Call 780-926-3715 for inquiries.
- Wabasca-Desmarais matters will continue to be held in High Prairie until further notice. Call the High Prairie Court at 780-523-6600 regarding any matters scheduled.
- The schools of Fort Vermilion School Division will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Students wishing to write a diploma exam, Grade 6 or Grade 9 provincial achievement tests should make arrangements with the Fort Vermilion School Division. For further information visit: fvsd.ab.ca.
- School officials in fire-impacted areas will address the impacts of disruption on the academic program and school year. Students or their guardians should watch for online or direct communications from local school authorities about specific changes.
Provincial park closures
- All provincial parks that were temporarily closed due to the threat of fire have reopened.
- Calling Lake Provincial Park campground is currently supporting evacuees. The boat launch in Calling Lake remains open.
- Current information about fire bans, restrictions and closures in provincial parks and campgrounds is available at http://www.albertaparks.ca/
Boil water advisory
- A boil water advisory is in place for Meander River (Dene Tha’ First Nation).
- Wabasca-Desmarais Healthcare Centre is now open.
- Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour help line at 1-877-303-2642, the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322, or Health Link at 811.
- The Northwest Health Centre in High Level is open.
- Alberta Health Services is providing enhanced addiction and mental health services to help residents in High Level following the evacuation.
- New, temporary walk-in services for individuals experiencing addiction and mental health concerns are available seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Mental Health Clinic at Northwest Health Centre in High Level. For more information, please call the clinic directly at 780-841-3229.
- Alberta Health Services has relocated acute patients and continuing care residents from La Crete and Fort Vermilion to health facilities in Edmonton and surrounding communities.
- The emergency department at St. Theresa General Hospital in Fort Vermilion remains open.
Pets and livestock
- High Level animal control has collected household pets that have been left behind. For questions regarding your pets, please call 780-926-2201.
- For evacuees in the Wabasca area, please fill out an online form on the Alberta Animal Disaster Response Facebook group, or text 403-869-4964 and provide your name, contact number, number of animals missing, where they were last seen, and a brief description of your pet.
- The County of Northern Lights will allow residents to enter property to look after livestock between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Residents must first go to the county office to register for the temporary access pass.
Electricity and natural gas billing
- High Level and area residential, farm, irrigation and small commercial electricity and natural gas customers will not be billed for the period covered by the evacuation order.
Donations and volunteers
- High Level is not accepting donations or volunteers at this time.
- The Town of Slave Lake has set up an online form for offers.
- Check the Mackenzie County Facebook page for an up-to-date list of donations needed and drop-off locations.
- There have been reports that local residents in High Level are being solicited by email or phone for donations in support of firefighters or affected residents. Do not share your personal information with them or donate money.
- When asked for donations (either over the phone, through an e-mail, or in person), ask the canvasser for identification or printed information about the charity.
- If you have concerns about the activities of a charitable organization including its fundraising practices, call Service Alberta: 1-877-427-4088.
- Mail and parcel delivery in certain communities has been affected by the wildfires.
- Canada Post has contingency measures in place to serve residents of these communities.
- Check the Canada Post website for updates.
Other income and social supports
- Evacuees who receive Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped or Income Support benefits by cheque should contact their worker to make arrangements to receive it.
- Call Alberta Supports at 1-877-644-9992 between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday to Friday if you:
- need information on other social supports
- are a contracted service provider, family member or individual needing assistance through the Persons with Developmental Disabilities program
- For information on child intervention and child care, call 1-800-638-0715.
- Employment insurance: evacuees can visit Service Canada online to apply at www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html. Use code 4812014812201900.
Health card, driver’s licences, ID cards, birth certificate
- To get a replacement Health Care Insurance Card call 780-427-1432 or toll free at 310-0000 and then 780-427-1432 when prompted. Your Alberta Personal Health Card can be mailed to a temporary address.
- If driver’s licences, identification cards, and/or birth certificates were left behind during the evacuation, replacement cards and certificates can be ordered free of charge at a registry agent.
- You can call 310-4455 for more information – Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019: Mike Rogers, Hockey Athlete
Mike Rogers played professional hockey for a total of 12 years; five years in the World Hockey Association, then seven years in the National Hockey League. Mike has the distinction of being one of only four players in the NHL to achieve 100 points in their first three seasons – the others are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Peter Stastny. Mike’s first year in the NHL was with the expansion Harford Whalers team in 1979/80. He scored 105 points in both his first and second year. Mid-way through the 1980/81season, he was named captain. Mike joined the New York Rangers for the 1981/82 season and led the team with 103 points. He averaged 67 points in his next three seasons as the team adapted a more defensive style of play. In 484 regular-season NHL games, he had 519 points. In 1974/75, during Mike’s first year in the WHA, he led the Edmonton Oilers rookies in goals and points and was selected the WHA’s Most Gentlemanly Player. He was traded to the New England Whalers in 1975/76 and was their top scorer in 1978/79. In 396 WHA games, he scored 145 goals and had 222 assists for 367 points.
ASIRT releases findings on shooting death of armed murder suspect
From Alberta Serious Incident Response Team: RCMP acted reasonably in shooting fatality during arrest
On Jan. 7, 2017, ASIRT was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a 27-year-old man during an attempted arrest by the RCMP that same day.
During a planned entry into a Stoney Nakoda First Nation residence to locate the man and two others suspected of involvement in a recent homicide, a confrontation occurred that resulted in the man being shot by an RCMP Emergency Response Team (ERT) officer.
ASIRT interviewed police and civilian witnesses, including the individuals present in the home that day and the involved officers. As well, the crime scene was examined, and photographs, radio communications and all available video were seized. ASIRT’s investigation is complete.
Having reviewed the investigation, executive director Susan Hughson, QC, concluded there were no reasonable grounds, nor reasonable suspicion, to believe a police officer committed a criminal offence.
On Jan. 7, 2017, RCMP executed several arrest warrants at residences on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation in search of three men, wanted for a murder that had occurred six days earlier. At the time, RCMP had information that the 27-year-old man had also been in possession of a firearm, which violated a court-ordered prohibition in effect until 2025. As such, the execution of the warrants was deemed to be high risk.
At approximately 4 p.m., ERT simultaneously sent teams to execute the warrants at two neighbouring homes, one being the home of the family of the 27-year-old man and his brother, also wanted in relation to the same homicide. The father of the men met the officers at the doorway to the residence. Officers located the brother inside on the first floor and arrested him without incident. As the officers proceeded further into the home, several other people were located and contained on the main level while others emerged from the basement. When asked whether anyone was still in the basement, the officers were told no.
A number of officers went down to clear the basement, announcing that they were police and that they had a warrant. As they moved along an interior wall towards a doorway in the basement, a man, later confirmed to have been the 27-year-old man, yelled at the officers to get out and leave him alone. A single shot was then fired from the opposite side of the wall, penetrating through drywall and narrowly missing the officers. The officers called out “shots fired”, returned to the main floor and, after throwing a tear gas canister into the basement, evacuated the residence.
At this point, officers were aware that they were dealing with an armed man and took up positions to contain the residence after everyone had been moved to safety. At this point, the RCMP would have had the benefit of time and resources.
One officer went towards the treeline on the west side of the residence to establish a rear sniper point. He positioned himself behind an old washing machine approximately 12 metres away from the house. While doing so, a gunshot was heard, believed to have come from the southwest corner of the basement near the basement window closest to the officer, and the officer reported hearing the sound of breaking glass.
Almost immediately, a woman climbed out of the window. As the officer yelled commands for her to walk towards him, the 27-year-old man emerged from the same basement window with a shotgun in his hands, carried at waist level and pointing in the direction of the officer and the young woman. The officer fired a single shot from his rifle, striking the 27-year-old man in the torso, causing him to collapse to the ground. Other ERT members moved in to secure the man and the shotgun, and to render emergency aid.
With the tear gas coming out of the basement window, RCMP moved the man and placed him on a jacket on the snow-covered ground to prevent hypothermia. The RCMP loaded the man into an RCMP vehicle and transported him to an ambulance waiting a short distance away, as the house and scene had not yet been cleared and confirmed safe by ERT officers. These officers re-entered the residence and found it empty.
The man was transported to a Calgary hospital where he was declared deceased. He sustained a single gunshot wound to the abdomen that injured internal organs and his spinal cord. More significantly, it cut through the main abdominal artery. This resulted in substantial hemorrhage and death. Toxicology was positive for methamphetamine.
The man’s gun, a 12-gauge tactical shotgun, was recovered loaded with three unfired shells. The pump action was in the forward firing position.
Section 25 of the Criminal Code states that a police officer is authorized to use as much force as is reasonably necessary in the execution of his or her duties. When necessary, an officer is entitled to resort to lethal force where there are, subjectively and objectively, grounds to believe that the person presents a risk of imminent bodily harm or death to the officer or another person. Lastly, an officer may use lethal force to prevent flight in limited circumstances.
The evidence is unequivocal that the 27-year-old man called out and fired upon the officers as they descended the stairs to clear the basement. The only other person in the basement was the unarmed woman who had exited the residence just ahead of the man. The woman confirmed that, although she did not see the events leading up to the officer-involved shooting, she immediately turned after the gunshot and saw officers approach the man and kick the shotgun away from the man as he laid on the ground.
Both objectively and subjectively, the man presented a risk of imminent grievous bodily harm or death to the officer, and potentially to the woman who would have been in the line of fire. The officer was lawfully placed and acting in the lawful execution of his duty. In the circumstances, the force used was both reasonable and authorized under the Criminal Code. There being no grounds to believe that an offence was committed by a police officer, no charges will be laid.
ASIRT’s mandate is to effectively, independently and objectively investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person.
There are no upcoming events at this time.