Wanuskewin opens its doors to evacuees

Wanuskewin Heritage Park opened its doors today to people who are waiting out forest fires in Saskatoon.

The Red Cross provided rides for about 35 evacuees today

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      Wanuskewin Heritage Park opened its doors today to people who are waiting out forest fires in Saskatoon. 

      Irene Elliott is the sales and event coordinator for the park. She helped organize the idea after receiving a phone call from a woman in the community late last week. 

      The Red Cross offered evacuees bus rides to Wanuskewin Heritage Park for the day. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC)
      The woman was concerned that people, especially young children, didn't have enough to do at the shelters. 

      "She was very upset," said Elliott. "She said something needs to be done, someone needs to do something." 

      Elliott was in touch with the Aboriginal Relations director for the city of Saskatoon, and shortly after the idea was finalized. 

      The Red Cross bused evacuees to the park. The Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies provided a free bannock and soup lunch for them. The Saskatoon Health Region also helped to put together these activities for evacuees.

      Elliott said a day away from the shelters will hopefully give people a break from the boredom and stress of being so far from home. 

      "Something other than just waiting and worrying about their communities back home and their houses back home, and what's going on. And take their minds off of it a little bit."

      Glenda Abbott took in the sights at Wanuskewin Heritage Park on Tuesday. She drove herself to Saskatoon from La Ronge on Saturday. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

      Dozens of evacuees spent the morning hiking at Wanuskewin today.

      Frances Charles was among them. She was one of the last to evacuate La Ronge, where she's lived for 67 years. She left on Saturday.

      Charles drove herself to Saskatoon and is living in a hotel now, but decided to take in the fresh air at Wanuskewin.

      "I came here because I didn't have anything else to do so I thought I'd come." 

      The park has space for 150 evacuees to take part in activities on Thursday.


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