A self-employed Zimbabwean, Mthokozisi Ndlovu, living in Canada’s Fort McMurray city in Alberta province, devastated by raging wild fires, says he is among thousands of people that have been displaced by the inferno, regarded as the worst in living memory.
Ndlovu and three other family members are now living in Edmonton city, about 450 kilometers away from his home. They are now getting state assistance in catering for their daily needs.
“My house was not too affected but what I know from reports we are getting is that the structure is still up … I don’t know the rest of it. There is quite a bit of Zimbabweans in the community and I would put a figure of between 150 and 100 who are affected.”
Indications are that up to 1,000 Zimbabweans have been affected by the fire that started almost two weeks ago.
At the moment, Ndlovu is currently unemployed and hopes that one day he will return to Fort McMurray, which has been declared a no-go area by the government.
“For most mortgages there has been a little bit of reprieve from the mortgage companies and banks. They have offered people to maybe hold up a bit on the payments until things are clear or they go back to their lives and in terms of living (in Edmonton) I would say the cost is really high and the government had to chip in but you also have to have some out of pocket expenses.
“We are in town and renting a place … (Going home) That is uncertain right now. The government would tell the people when to go back and the fire is still burning uncontrollably, so right now it’s not really safe and they have to fix the infrastructure.”
According to the International Organization for Migration, the Zimbabwean community in Canada is estimated at 50,000 concentrated in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton and Ontario.