Community members in Fort Smith are organizing an open-mic night on Tuesday to raise funds for NWT residents displaced by flooding.
Hundreds of residents in Fort Simpson have evacuated from the Dehcho village’s island, while virtually the entire community of Jean Marie River has temporarily abandoned the community after record high water led to flooding of many homes.
Dozens of Fort Simpson evacuees have been flown to Fort Smith, where some are staying either in hotels or with friends and family. More than 40 people are staying in the town’s arena.
Andrew Shedden, a music teacher at Fort Smith’s Paul William Kaeser High School, is helping to organize Tuesday’s outdoor open-mic show, which he said would comply with pandemic public health restrictions.
“I can’t even imagine being displaced like that,” Shedden told Cabin Radio. “I just came up with the idea of an open mic in one of the parks. Our hope is that we’ll be able to raise some money to help take care of these people while they are in our community.”
The event takes place in Conibear Park from 6pm to 9pm on Tuesday. Cash donations are being collected on-site. Shedden said all funds will be used to help evacuees.
Local artists set to perform include Harold Gambler and Shedden himself.
Anyone is welcome to take part. In a notice advertising the event, prospective participants were encouraged to “bring their own microphones” if possible.
“We’ll have a couple of extra microphones that will be clean and sterilized that we can make available, but if people have their own mic, it just makes our life a lot easier,” Shedden said.
Social distancing rules will be in place and masks are encouraged.
Fort Smith isn’t the only community pulling together to help those affected by flooding. A number of online fundraisers have been launched, and Facebook groups have been formed to share information and resources for people looking for help.
Shedden said it’s important for everyone in the NWT to help out where they can.
“It’s just important that we all work together as a community, as a territory, to support all of our citizens in like a difficult time like this,” he said. “This is just how I think the territory operates, and I’m really proud to be able to take a small part in this.
“Hopefully, we’re able to make something happen tonight.”