Division News

Division News

Q&A for students, parents and staff impacted by wildfires

Posted on June 24

Updated June 24, 2019

1. Which Northland schools are closed due to wildfires?

  • Paddle Prairie School: Closed for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year
  • Career Pathways School, Wabasca Alberta: Closed until further notice. 
  • Mistassiniy School, Wabasca Alberta: Closed until further notice. 
  • St. Theresa School, Wabasca Alberta: Closed until further notice.
  • Chipewyan Lake School: Closed until further notice. 
  • Pelican Mountain School (Sandy Lake): Closed until further notice. 

**Events (graduation ceremony, awards day, etc) have been postponed/cancelled due to wildfires. 

2. When will schools be inspected? 

Our insurance adjusters have completed assessments in the following locations:

  • Thursday, June 6, 2019: Paddle Prairie School
  • Monday, June 10, 2019: St. Theresa School
  • Tuesday, June 11, 2019: Pelican Mountain School 
  • Tuesday, June 11, 2019: Chipewyan Lake School
  • Wednesday, June 12, 2019: Mistassiniy School 
  • Thursday, June 13, 2019: Career Pathways School

Paddle Prairie School suffered severe smoke damage and is closed for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year. As part of the damage assessment completed at the school, asbestos was identified as a component of some of the ceiling tiles and HVAC pipe wrap. Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) have safely existed within schools for many years and still, exist within schools built before the 1990s when asbestos use was banned in Canada. 

The practice of leaving ACM in place until renovations or repairs require removal is common throughout Canada. The contractor will follow a Code of Practice that ensures no exposure to restoration staff, nor residual exposure to staff and students when the school is reopened. The school is on target to re-open before the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. 

Initial tests for St. Theresa School, Mistassiniy School, Career Pathways School, Pelican Mountain School, and Chipewyan Lake School also reveal smoke damage. All of the schools are closed until further notice. Work is underway to restore the schools to normal operation before the school year begins. 

3. When will staff be allowed to access the schools? 

Principals for Paddle Prairie School, St. Theresa School, Mistassiniy School, Career Pathways School, Pelican Mountain School, and Chipewyan Lake School have been coordinating dates to access the school. 

Staff for the above-mentioned schools can collect personal belongings and work in the school for a maximum of four hours per day. This is to facilitate completion of marking and other administrative duties. 

When at school, the staff will be asked to do the following:

  • Put all belongings into a bag and leave for 24 hours. If any of the items smell like smoke, the staff should not take the items home. 
  • Food items and kitchen appliances should not be used. (ie. coffee makers, microwaves)
  • It is recommended dust mask be used, however, the duration of time inside these buildings should be limited and if respiratory irritation occurs the staff member should leave the facility. Masks will be available to staff.

4. When can families pick up personal belongings? 

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019: Paddle Prairie School from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 27, 2019: St. Theresa School from 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 27, 2019: Mistassiniy School from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 27, 2019: Career Pathways School from 8:00 - 12:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 27, 2019: Pelican Mountain School from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 

5. I am a Northland staff member who has been impacted by wildfires. What kind of support and counselling services can I access? 

We are concerned about the welfare of all of our staff and want to remind you that support and counselling services are available through our Employee and Family Assistance Program provider Homewood Health. They can be contacted at 1-800-663-1142 or visit the Northland School Division website for more information http://nsd61.ca/information-for-staff/employee-and-family-assistance-program

Homewood Health - Experiencing a Traumatic Event

Homewood Health - Supporting Employees Affected by a Natural Disaster

Homewood Health - Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event

A drop-in evacuation centre has been set-up at the Alberta Teachers' Association building (Room 218) for Northland staff impacted the wildfires. Food and beverages will available and staff will have access to library services in the building. 

6. My child has been impacted by the wildfires. What kind of support and counselling services are available for my child?

Parents can access the following resources:

7. What other health services are available?

  • For health advice or information on health services, call Health Link at 811 or 1-866-408-LINK (5465).
  • For mental health support, call the helpline at 1-877-303-2642 if you’re stressed, overwhelmed or need to talk.
  • Medication refills or new prescriptions can be filled at St. Theresa General Hospital in Fort Vermilion (4506-46 Avenue).
  • Residents who have been evacuated to other communities can visit their nearest pharmacy for assistance
  • Health cards: Replacement Health Care Insurance Cards are available at no cost, contact 780-427-1432 (for toll-free, dial 310-0000 first). Your Alberta Personal Health Card can be mailed to a temporary address. Courtesy of https://www.alberta.ca/emergency.aspx

8. Who should I contact regarding insurance information?

Living expenses

  • Most home and tenant's insurance policies provide reasonable coverage for living expenses during an evacuation. Contact your insurance company for details.
  • Keep all receipts for food, accommodation, and other related living expenses to submit for possible reimbursement.

Insurance Bureau of Canada

Courtesy of https://www.alberta.ca/emergency.aspx

9. Are evacuees eligible for financial support? Note: Information is from the Alberta Government

Alberta residents affected by the northwest Alberta wildfires may be eligible for a one-time evacuation payment to help with immediate living costs, such as accommodation, food, and gas. It is not intended to replace income.

Eligible families will receive:

  • $1,250 for each adult
  • $500 for each child under 18 living in the same home when the evacuation order was given


You may qualify for the evacuation payment if you:

  • were living, working or vacationing in the affected area
  • were forced to leave due to an evacuation order
  • paid for most of your costs to evacuate

You are not eligible if you:

  • live in a community that was not affected by an evacuation order
  • own property in the evacuated communities but were not living there when the evacuation was ordered
  • evacuated from a community not under an evacuation order
  • had your evacuation paid for by a government agency such as a supportive living facility like a seniors lodge, nursing home, extended care facility or temporary shelter
  • had your evacuation paid for by your employer

How to apply


  • Apply online through the MyAlberta Evacuation Payment application using a smartphone, device or desktop.
    • Apply for yourself and your children or other dependents.
    • Provide a personal email address to receive the payment by Interac e-Transfer.


  • If you cannot apply online, apply in person at any Alberta Supports Centre in Alberta. Staff will help process your evacuation payment.
  • Evacuees in La Crete and Fort Vermilion can apply in person at:
    • La Crete Heritage Centre (25411 Township Road 1060, south of La Crete)
    • Fort Vermilion Community Cultural Complex (5001 44 Avenue)
  • A debit card will be provided if you cannot receive an Interac e-Transfer.

Step 1. Have identification ready

  • Adults need an Alberta issued driver’s licence or identification
  • Proof of residence or presence in the community
  • Children’s identification can include an Alberta Health number, passport, birth certificate or Alberta ID card
  • Identification for your partner/spouse or dependent, if you are claiming relief for them

Step 2. Apply

  • Use the MyAlberta Evacuation Payment online application.
    • It will ask you to log into your MyAlberta Digital Identity (MADI) account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up through the application.
    • Write down the reference number you get at the end of the application.
    • You will see a message that says you will get a letter with a PIN number to complete your verification. You don’t need to complete this step to receive your evacuation payment.

After you apply

  • After you submit your online application you will get an email confirming it has been received. (Make sure to check your inbox and junk folder.)
  • Within a few hours, you will get another email with next steps instructions.
  • If more information is needed, you will be asked to visit the nearest designated Alberta Supports Centre listed in the email.

Get help

If you need help, you can go into any Alberta Supports Centre in the province during regular business hours.

If you need technical help with the MyAlberta Evacuation Payment online application, contact the MyAlberta Digital ID contact centre:

Courtesy of https://www.alberta.ca/emergency.aspx

10. Are students impacted by the wildfires exempt from writing Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) and Diploma Exams? 

Provincial Achievement Exams (PATs)/Diploma Exams

Paddle Prairie School, Mistassiniy School, Career Pathways School, St. Theresa School, Chipewyan Lake School, Pelican Mountain School and Calling Lake School students scheduled to write June 2019 Diploma Exams may either:

  1. receive an exemption from the exams; or
  2. write the exams if they choose to do so and can safely make it to a school.

Paddle Prairie School, Mistassiniy School, Career Pathways School, St. Theresa School, Chipewyan Lake School, Pelican Mountain School and Calling Lake School students scheduled to write June 2019 Grades 6 and 9 Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) may either:

  1. be excused from the tests; or
  2. write the tests if they choose to do so and can safely make it to a school.
  • Final course marks for students who receive exemptions from the Diploma Exams will be comprised of only the teacher-awarded mark. If a student chooses to write the Diploma Exams, the student cannot retroactively ask for an exemption to be provided for the exam.
  • Students who are excused from writing the PATs will be removed from the cohort, meaning downstream processes like the Accountability Pillar will not be negatively affected.
  • Lists of students who were registered to write the provincial assessments, but were excused from doing so, should be provided to exam.admin@gov.ab.ca by June 28, 2019.

11. Wildfire updates? 

Watch for updates on our website or visit:

12. Where can I find information regarding air quality?