Strangers make Mother's Day special for Fort McMurray evacuees

For Nicole Dion, spending Mother's Day with her family at a campground is all she needs. But then she received small gifts from a complete stranger.

'I appreciate the chance to help other moms,' says one woman who gathered 600 flowers

Mother's Day flowers given to Fort McMurray evacuees

7 years ago
Duration 0:47
Lisa Braun handed out flowers to mothers at the Edmonton Expo Centre where many of the Fort McMurray evacuees are staying.

For Nicole Dion, spending Mother's Day with her family at a campground is all she needs. But then she received small gifts from a complete stranger.

"I didn't expect anything — and then people are just handing over flowers, cards and hugs. It's beautiful," said Dion, one of the thousands of people forced to leave Fort McMurray this week.

For someone whose Timberlea neighbourhood home is threatened by a 161,000 hectare wildfire, she's smiling and in good spirits. She said a visit to Edmonton's evacuation centre at the Expo Centre made today a special one after many stressful days.

"To see everybody from our hometown, and to hug everybody, it's an awesome Mother's Day," said Dion.

Lisa Braun is literally going out of her way to make Mother's Day special for moms who have been displaced by the wildfire. She packed an SUV with 600 flowers, also getting her mother, daughter and husband to come along. They drove six hours from Coaldale, in southern Alberta, just to give out flowers and hugs at Edmonton's evacuation centre.

"I didn't feel right myself, enjoying Mother's Day and all the luxuries that we have," said Braun. "Knowing that there are moms here that don't even have a home, they don't have an area to cook a meal to celebrate."

Lisa Braun, of Coaldale, Alta. , hands a flower to a Fort McMurray evacuee on Mother's Day at the Edmonton evacuation centre. (CBC)

To collect the 600 stems, Braun hosted a flower drive in Lethbridge, Alta., over the past two days, receiving donations from florists and friends.

As Braun arrived at the evacuation, she walked up to a woman with a stroller and hugged her. The woman smiled and she walked away. Then Braun started to tear up, as her husband kissed her on her forehead.

"I appreciate the chance to help other moms," said Braun. "Rather than sitting and taking in the celebration that my children and husband do for me, I appreciate being able to brighten the day for somebody else."

Lisa Braun and her family unload hundreds of flowers after a six-hour drive from Coaldale, Alta., to an Edmonton evacuation centre. (CBC News)

She wasn't the only one, as there were at least two more groups of people handing out flowers outside of the evacuation centre. Inside, evacuees were treated to a Mother's Day brunch.

For the moms who have had to tell their kids everything will be okay while a wildfire continues to threaten their town, this Mother's Day, they really mean it.

Pete Braun hands out flowers outside Edmonton's EPCOR centre. (CBC News)