A couple whose Yellowknife home burned down in a fire 10 days ago have penned an open letter to the city’s residents.
Shannon Crawley and Scott Falshaw, parents of one-year-old Casey, thanked Yellowknifers for their support during an experience they described as “terrifying, confusing, uncertain, and surreal.”
On this page, with the family’s permission, we have printed their letter to the city and its residents.
The last week has felt months long. On Sunday, June 14, we lost our home to fire, and the following days have been an emotional rollercoaster ranging from utter devastation and heartbreak to overwhelming gratitude. We wanted to take a moment to express ourselves to our community, friends, and family, and to communicate our sincere thanks to everyone who has reached out to us.
We dreamed of our home long before we had it. We used to walk around the neighbourhood, imagining how wonderful it would be to have a house in the area. When we had the opportunity, we knew that 5503 50A was a cherished home and that we would continue to cherish it; it was truly a dream come true for us to live there.
We mourn the loss of that beautiful home: the memories of living there as newlyweds and new parents, and the labours of love that went into it. We mourn the things we painted and the touches that made our own; the things we planted, especially the tree for Casey; the vegetable garden that never seemed to yield much but was a joy anyway; the future we imagined for ourselves and for Casey in that space.
It was a horrible experience to flee a house fire: terrifying, confusing, uncertain, and surreal. We immediately knew that we were lucky to have escaped early, all together and safe, but as we watched the fire grow and began to understand the magnitude of what was happening, there was a lot of darkness.
In this darkest hour, though, things we needed began to appear as if by magic. In true Yellowknife fashion, acts of kindness came immediately and soon became a tidal wave that has flooded us with compassion, generosity, and care. It was and remains, indeed, magic.
The day Casey came home from Stanton Territorial Hospital. Photo: Submitted
We will never be able to adequately thank everyone who has touched us in this darkness, but as an imperfect beginning:
To the Yellowknife Fire Department, we saw your efforts to save our home. During and after the fire, you rescued and recovered some of our most precious items that, while material, are invaluable: Casey’s baby blanket, our wedding album, precious family jewelry and photos. You rescued our four goldfish, which speaks volumes about your compassion and humanity. We are forever indebted to you.
To the RCMP who responded, who called their families to rush us baby food, diapers, and clothes. Who called back later to offer more. We know these gestures were above and beyond your duties, and were motivated by your kindness and genuine care for us in the midst of a nightmare. We are so grateful.
To our neighbours, many of whom we hadn’t yet had a chance to get to know, you are truly a gift. To Manuel, who defied gravity to alert us to the fire, we have you to thank for so much. To our neighbours who gave us water, food, shoes, baby supplies, and innumerable offers of help, you have such big hearts and we are so thankful. Thank you to the neighbours who, when we returned the next day to try to salvage what we could, gathered in our driveway with supplies and coordinated the careful packing, labelling, and removal of what little we had left. We absolutely cannot wait to get back to 50A Avenue and be among you again.
To our friends who rushed to the scene, gave us a place to stay, brought us food and supplies, cooked us meals, provided childcare and cat care, and joined us in our daunting recovery efforts, you are all blessings beyond belief. Thank you for doing everything in your power to comfort us and provide for us.
Casey’s triumphant reunion with his Lovey, Ellie, replaced after the fire. Photo: Submitted
To Nicole for starting a GoFundMe campaign on our behalf and to the hundreds of donors who leapt forward, your generosity knows no bounds. We have been moved to tears repeatedly by the outreach and donations from near and far, many from people we have never met. Every message, donation, and offer of furniture, household items, clothes, food, and everything else we might need has overwhelmed us with the sheer thoughtfulness and selflessness of those around us. We are leaning on this support as we move forward and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
To our families and our friends outside of Yellowknife, we know how hard it is to be far away during this time. We feel so fortunate to have you, sending so very much support any way you can. Please know how much we miss and love you, and how grateful we are for you. Rest assured that we are being well cared for by a community that understands what it’s like to be away from family, and has embraced us with open arms.
To the local businesses and their staff who have reached out to us and treated us with so much kindness and generosity, we know that this has been a challenging year for you so far. We are very humbled by your actions.
We have been so completely overwhelmed by the kind words and gestures of support from so many. We know we haven’t covered everyone we’d like to thank, but we are committed to getting in touch with everyone individually no matter how long it takes. In the meantime, please know that your kindness did not go unnoticed and that we are forever grateful.
Yellowknife, you inspire us. You have turned our heartbreaking loss into a story of kindness and generosity and hope. In losing our dream home, we have realized that we are part of the bigger dream that is Yellowknife. Our chosen place, a community of friends, neighbours, colleagues, businesses, and perfect strangers who have rallied around us in our time of need.
We commit to being the best versions of ourselves in this community, raising Casey to know and understand the value of these principles that you have demonstrated so beautifully for us while asking nothing in return. We are humbled, grateful, and truly fortunate. Thank you for being with us on the long road ahead.
Forever in gratitude,
Shannon, Scott, Casey, and Louie.