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Countess and Governor General honour work during Fort McMurray wildfire

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Countess and Governor General honour work during Fort McMurray wildfire

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Governor General David Johnston view the damage in Beacon Hill on June 24, 2016 // Chris Vandenbreekel - Harvard Broadcasting

Even the thunderstorms were feeling courteous in the presence of royalty.

The rain, wind, and lightning held off wherever the royal tour stopped in the RMWB on Friday as Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Governor General David Johnston met with first responders, volunteers, and community members across the region.

The two were given a brief tour of Beacon Hill to view the damage wrought by the wildfire, guided by R.E.S. Fire Chief Darby Allen and Mayor Melissa Blake. As the tour drove through Fort McMurray, Allen explained how and where the fire had jumped the highway to wreak havoc in the community.

Her Royal Highness and His Excellency honoured the communities of Fort McKay, Fort McMurray, and Fort McMurray 468 First Nation with the Governor General’s Commendation for Outstanding Service in ceremonies throughout the day.

“All of Canada, and people around the world, watched in shock as the wildfires spread,” Johnston said. “And the only thing we took comfort in were the stories of people pulling together and helping each other, and bravely trying to save the city.”

 

At FMM 468 the Countess was gifted a pair of moccasins by an elder, and took pictures with several families.

“I think I may take this one home with me,” she said of a little girl who took part in a traditional dance to welcome the dignitaries.

Mayor Melissa Blake commented after the day that it was a unique experience for her as a community leader.

“It’s a profound honour to receive that recognition on behalf of every single citizen here in Wood Buffalo,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to not only talk about the heroic efforts that kept 90% of the community intact, but also to talk about the ongoing challenges for people who are very much still dealing with what we see on the ground.”

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