During the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires, the neighbourhood of Abasand was one of the first communities to be evacuated and was also among the most devastated by the fire. Sharing the same building, the francophone school and daycare in Abasand suffered major damage when a portion of the building and shed, full of their seasonal props and equipment, burned to the ground. The students and the daycare children were displaced to trailers for the school year.
Activities, such as their traditional spring celebration, “cabane à sucre”, were going to be put on hold due to the loss of equipment. Also known as a Maple Festival, the event celebrates French Canadian culture, history and traditions. However, the metal trays normally used to help cool boiled maple tree sap to make taffy, as part of the festival, had been lost in the fire.
If the francophone community was to hold their annual celebration, it became apparent they were going to need some help.
“It only took one phone call and the specifications drawn on a piece of paper, and our contractors at Suncor’s Base Plant location went to work,” says Kim Rizzi, community relations and economic development specialist, Wood Buffalo.
Contractors from Jacobs, working at Suncor’s Base Plant, worked quickly to fabricate new metal trays and delivered them in time for the festivities to the Association of Francophones in Alberta (ACFA). The traditional annual celebration went off in March without a hitch, and maple syrup taffy was enjoyed by all.
Lily-Rose, grade one, enjoys maple taffy at the cabane à sucre