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Team Rubicon Canada is searching for memories after the Tantallon wildfire

By Joe Thomson Jun 13, 2023 | 11:36 AM

Three firefighters with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency work to put out fires in the Tantallon area (Photo credit: Communications Nova Scotia).

Families in Tantallon are starting to return to their homes after the devastating wildfire tore through their community, but there are still some with no home to return to.

Team Rubicon is working to give those families closure by salvaging memories from their destroyed homes.

Team Rubicon Canada is a nationally recognized charity that serves communities by mobilizing veterans, first responders, and skilled civilians to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises. Team Rubicon has been operating out of the United States since 2010 when an earthquake devastated Haiti. The Canadian branch was founded following the Fort MacMurray fires in 2016 when Canadian volunteers from the US branch responded to a disaster closer to home.

Chief Operating Officer for Team Rubicon Canada, Steven MacBeth, says the process of combing through debris and wreckage can be complex and emotional, but that the reward of providing families with closure means so much to the volunteers.

He said it can be hard and sometimes dangerous work, especially considering the hot weather the area is experiencing lately. Volunteers are outfitted in full protective equipment, including Tyvek suits and facemasks to protect them from the ash still lingering in the air. Despite how tough it is, MacBeth says helping those in need is in the volunteers DNA.

“We’ll take on that hot, dirty work on their behalf to be able to help them on that road to recovery,” said MacBeth.

The team is currently in the process of setting up their base of operations and will begin their salvaging mission this weekend. In the meantime, they’re speaking with homeowners and families to find out what they should be looking for. He says some residents just want something that reminds them of home.

“Even if they don’t have something that they’re looking for specifically, like an old piece of jewelry that’s been passed down generations, [they’re asking] if it’s okay to take on the service just to see if there’s anything to connect them to the remnants of their home,” said MacBeth.

He said anything from a photo album to a plate can take on new importance for a family that’s already lost so much.

“What wasn’t an heirloom becomes an heirloom later,” said MacBeth.


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