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'Be brave and if you can't be brave, fake it': advice for Fort McMurray evacuees

Suzanne Young went through the process of replacing everything in her home, and mourning the things that she couldn't replace. Her advice for others: "Be brave and if you can't be brave, fake it and no one will know the difference."
A Fort McMurray evacuee plays a guitar while lying on a cot at a hockey rink in Lac La Biche, Alberta, Canada, on Saturday, May 7, 2016. (Darryl Dyck/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As evacuees from the Fort McMurray fire contemplate what they'll return home to, one woman who lost her home to a fire in Kelowna, BC offers her own advice. Suzanne Young went through the process of replacing everything in her home, and mourning the things that she couldn't replace. Her advice for others: "Be brave and if you can't be brave, fake it and no one will know the difference."

Listen to her conversation with Checkup guest host, Duncan McCue, or scroll down to read the transcript.

A woman who lost her home to fire in Kelowna gives advice for evacuees from Fort McMurray. 2:48

Suzanne Young: We had a total loss during the fire in Kelowna. I had two very sentimental items that I lost: a set of snowshoes from my father and a roll top desk, which my mother had refinished and given to me. My parents had both passed away so those items were very dear to me. Of course, you can replace almost everything else but not items like that. So once I had reconciled the fact that it was the memories of my parents that were special, I was able to accept the loss of the items and carry on. It's difficult to recover from but the folks from Fort McMurray who lost their homes will get through it. 

Duncan McCue: Do you have any advice for those folks?

SY: I read in a Reader's Digest, the day after the fire, a quote that said, "Be brave and if you can't be brave, fake it and no one will know the difference." Somehow that gave me a lot of strength. And the support of everyone around them is something to celebrate--all of the human generosity. 

DM: How long did it take for you to get past this when you got back to Kelowna? 

SY: Well I think recovering from something like this is a long process. Even going forward hearing about fires still affects me very deeply. But just in terms of replacing belongings and getting back on track, it took about a year to really get everything back and sorted out. After that it was just dealing with the loss of a previous home and your surroundings. 

DM: Do you make any other comparisons between Kelowna and what you're seeing in Fort McMurray? 

SY: I think you know you just have to be ready for natural disasters. Our particular fire wasn't from a forest fire it was prior to that. But my advice is to have a go box ready. When there's forest fires around, we have our car full of gas in the winter and we have an emergency kit ready to go.

Suzanne Young's and Duncan McCue's comments have been edited and condensed. This online segment was prepared by Ayesha Barmania.

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