A First Nation in northern Saskatchewan says it has moved about 300 members out of the community to safety in response to health threats arising from forest fire smoke.
The Fond du Lac Denesuline Nation, which is on Lake Athabasca and about 60 kilometres from the Northwest Territories boundary, says in a statement that the evacuation focused on people with compromised cardio-respiratory conditions and other health issues.
Indigenous Services Canada says 253 vulnerable members were sent by air last Friday to Saskatoon, due to the poor air quality caused by heavy smoke, with support from the Canadian Red Cross and Prince Albert Grand Council.
The department also says clean air shelters and air purifiers are available to residents who remain in the community.
In its latest wildfire update, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency says the Todos fire burning just east of Fond du Lac is nearly 27 square kilometres in size and its status is listed as not contained.
The band has a population of about 2,300, with more than 900 on reserve and around 1,300 to 1,400 off reserve.
“Once it’s safe, we will start the process of bringing everyone back home,” said Fond du Lac Chief Kevin Mercredi in the statement.
“Our people’s safety will always be our main concern, and we will make sure everything is safe before we begin this process.”
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