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In early May 2016, wildfire burnt across the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in Northern Alberta, and causing the largest wildfire evacuation in Canadian history. Wood Buffalo is home to a large population of Métis and First Nations peoples living in reserves and settlements, and in urban Fort McMurray. Within the city of Fort McMurray, most homes were lost in the Waterways, Beacon Hill and Abasand neighbourhoods. Outside Fort McMurray, Indigenous trappers have lost their ability to work on their trap-lines, and gather medicine and berries. The building that housed Métis Local 1935, which provide vital services to Métis peoples in Wood Buffalo, was also lost.
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A group of Indigenous service providers and leaders and non-Indigenous university-based and community-based researchers came together to understand how Indigenous peoples in Wood Buffalo have been affected by the wildfire, in order to identify ways to reduce negative impacts on their health and well-being. Indigenous Health and Resilience through Disaster (IHRD) is a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) funded study that began in January 2017 by a University of Alberta research team, in partnership with the Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre in Fort McMurray.