Brian Jean has two words for people in the Grande Prairie area: thank you. The Wildrose Leader made a trip to the Swan City Wednesday to thank residents for their support for Fort McMurray relief efforts, and to check on the roughly 50 evacuee families who have made their way here.

“They’ve opened up their homes to these people, they’ve opened up their wallets, provided clothing and shelter and all the needs that they have. Everywhere I’ve gone, including Grande Prairie, they’ve always said, ‘we’ve got everything we need; people are taking great care of us.'”

Locally, Jean says the Red Cross has been doing great work getting displaced people the supports they need, and he commends local businesses for offering discounts to help out. A Fort McMurray resident for 50 years, Jean lost his house in the fire, but he believes the city will rebuild even stronger.

“Not only stronger, but we’re going to have a better city. We’re going to have better infrastructure; we’re going to have better houses. I think this is part of living in the north and living the life where you have forest fires and floods as an occurrence that could possibly happen. This is what makes us strong; this is what makes us the best place to live, work and play in the world.”

Jean took the time to thank the region for their support over the past week, saying Fort Mac would do the same if it were us. The people he’s spoken to say while they’re being taken care of well in the Swan City, they want to go home more than anything. He’s disappointed a timeline for re-entry won’t be released until the end of next week.