Tanisha Edison and her partner had to welcome the newest addition to their family more than 1,000 kilometres away from home.
Edison, a resident of Hay River, N.W.T., had a healthy baby girl on Aug. 23 at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, a little more than a week after they were forced to leave home due to the wildfire.
“It’s hard to be in a different community like 13 hours from your home when you have a new baby and you know everything you have is in a different town,” she said.
“I went from having ideas, plans and having everything that I needed for the baby to having pretty much nothing.”
However, she said she’s thankful to have had her daughter, who she named Nova Grace, in the Alberta capital.
“I think it turned out better for my delivery plans because they do have some of the best hospitals for babies and mothers in Edmonton,” she said.
Edison and her partner, Mason Bruneau, are anxious to go home and to sleep in her own bed. Edison said she’s especially excited to introduce her baby to the new crib they haven’t been able to use yet.
Residents of Yellowknife and two nearby First Nations, which were evacuated three weeks ago, were allowed to return to their homes Wednesday.
But it still isn’t safe for residents to return to some communities in the territory, including Hay River, where officials have said wildfire last month damaged some structures in the town of 3,500.
Fort Smith and Fort Providence remain at an extreme risk to wildfires, while Hay River also continues to be at risk.
More than 36,000 square kilometres have burned so far this year in the territory due to wildfires, and 241 active fires remain.
Edison said having a baby in Edmonton turned out to be a good experience after all.
She had plenty of help from her family and was lucky to give birth to a “quiet and calm” baby.
She said her two older children helped to keep her mind occupied while they were evacuated. They’ve stayed at an evacuation centre, the hospital and hotels.
“My daughter is autistic, so they really kept me on my feet,” she said. “It was a little easier to keep my mind off of the stress and the evacuation, trying to make sure my children are settled and have what they need.”
Edison’s advice for expectant mothers who may be in her shoes is “just getting as much rest as you can, and to make sure you have everything prepared.”
There is still no sign when Edison and her family can return to Hay River and they are patiently waiting to be told it’s safe.
“The more time you have to prepare, the better,” she said.
Jamin Mike, The Canadian Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 7, 2023.