Social, Economic and Health Effects of the 2016 Alberta Wildfires: Pediatric Resilience
Julie L. Drolet*1,, Caroline McDonald-Harker*2, Nasreen Lalani*3, Meagan McNichol*4, Matthew R. G. Brown*5, and Peter H. Silverstone*6
*1Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary
3-250 Enterprise Square, 10230 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4P6, Canada
*2Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Mount Royal University, Alberta, Canada
*3School of Nursing, Purdue University, Indiana, USA
*4Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
*5Department of Computing Science, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada
*6Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada
The 2016 Alberta wildfires resulted in devastating human, socio-economic, and environmental impacts. Very little research has examined pediatric resilience (5–18 years) in disaster-affected communities in Canada. This article discusses the effects of the wildfire on child and youth mental health, community perspectives on how to foster resilience post-disaster, and lessons learned about long-term disaster recovery by drawing on data collected from 75 community influencers following the 2016 Alberta wildfires. Community influencers engaged in the delivery of services and programs for children, youth, and families shared their perspectives and experiences in interviews (n = 30) and in focus group sessions (n = 35). Using a purposive and snowball sampling approach, participants were recruited from schools, community organizations, not-for-profit agencies, early childhood development centers, and government agencies. The results show that long-term disaster recovery efforts require sustained funding, particularly in meeting mental health and well-being. Implications and recommendations are provided.
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