Last Wednesday as I landed in Montreal back from the inauguration of the Casa Giorgi Park of Study and Reflection in Italy. I learned that the Northern Quebec where I grew up was on fire and that several members of my family, my sister, her husband, and her children and grandchildren were stuck at home waiting to find out if the firefighters were able to control the fires a few kilometers from their houses.
Finally, after a few days of struggle and with the help of twenty air tankers, the firefighters were able to protect Normetal wildfire, a small village near where my sister in her family lives.
But we don’t know what tomorrow has in store for them, it depends on the direction of the prevailing winds and rain and showers prediction.
New Brunswick firefighters specializing in the origin of forest fires have arrived in the region. They will look in the ground for the origin of the fires and will try to redirect the fires away from the villages.
Quebec Public security minister Francois Bonnardel said friday, there should be about 1,200 people battling the balzes, including hundreds of firefighters from United Sates, Portugal, Spain and France. (Source : Global and Mail)
When I came back from Italy, I also learned that my nephew, Christophe Farrell, who is a firefighter of 22 years old, had witnessed the destruction of hundreds of thousands of trees and wildlife for days in Radisson near Jame Bay. According to Christophe, thousands of animals ran in all directions seeking refuge. With his team, all young people, they were under stock seeing the destruction of wildlife on a massive scale.
The cover of the New York Post featured a photo of the Manhattan skyline shrouded in a Venusian yellow haze with the headline “Blame Canada!”
Later on Thursday President Joe Biden ordered all the U.S. federal firefighting personnel to be ready to deploy 600 firefighters to Canada as raging wildfires in the north of Quebec and around the country, continued to blanket eastern American cities and New York in an unprecedentedly thick, smoky smog.
The New York Post headline is wrong, if we are to blame something for this disaster, we must directly address the issue of climate change and point out the part of the responsibility to the oil companies.
The number of out-of-control fires in Canada was estimated at 234 on Wednesday and there are more than a dozen fires in the North of Quebec which were the biggest. The province of Quebec have the most active fires, at 139.
“The fires that are burning in Quebec are the biggest fires in the world right now,” said Thomas Smith, an associate professor in environmental geography at the London School of Economics. “There’s one that I analyzed satellite imagery of. It’s about 100,000 hectares, 1,000 kilometers squared. There are very few fires that get to that size.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Physical destruction of my landscape of formation
Listening to the story of my nephew and my sister, brought a great sadness within myself. I have lived in Montreal for more than 35 years, but I had never really taken on the full extent of my attachment to the north and its vast forests and wildlife and now in the blink of an eye all these could disappear, all this magnificent fauna could be destroyed. The hundreds of thousands of trees we planted with my family could be wiped out. In fact, it’s part of my landscape of formation that could go up in smoke.
But despite the disaster, I was delighted to learn that several young people, like my nephew, volunteered to help the firefighters. In fact, several of my friends’ children and young adults living in northern Quebec volunteered. It’s an ironic situation, the extremely rich and older people with their conceptions of the world where money is the central value had pursued for decades the exploitation of oil and gas despite scientific alarm cries generated the conditions for the spread of gigantic forest fires in northern Quebec. But then the new generation’s response is to fight and struggle the wildfire and protect the planet and our species. We should be grateful for the kindness of many young people who choose a career that is based on protecting wildlife, the planet, and our civilization.