Yellowknife evacuees have made their way back home after being sent to Winnipeg following the wildfire evacuation order.
Len Griffore was one of 69 residents who had to leave. He stayed with his daughter there and enjoyed catching up with her. But he said he's happy to be back.
"It was a long way away."
Originally, Manitoba was supposed to be where evacuees could stay if Alberta couldn't take any more people in.
According to Jay Boast, an information officer with the territory's emergency management organization, the territory organized evacuation flights to Winnipeg after the City of Calgary communicated that they needed time to confirm their evacuation capacity.
When the City of Calgary later confirmed they could take more evacuees, the territory sent subsequent flights there but didn't consider moving evacuees from Winnipeg to Alberta.
"Our primary focus was making sure that people had safe and secure accommodation and that their basic needs were being accounted for," he said.
In the end, most of the 69 evacuees in Winnipeg stayed in the same hotel near the Winnipeg airport. Instead of receiving meal vouchers, as many evacuees in Alberta did, they were provided three meals a day directly by the Government of Manitoba.
Jim Paulson said he was very happy with the hospitality he got in Manitoba, especially the "deluxe" hotel rooms evacuees got to stay in.
"The food wasn't perfect, but, I mean, it's all free," he joked.
Not everyone feels enough was done for evacuees in Winnipeg.
Jim Warren is a former Yellowknifer who lives in Winnipeg. When he learned that evacuees were coming to Winnipeg, he tried to help out.
Evacuees who were staying in Winnipeg collect their baggage at the Yellowknife airport. (Richard Gleeson/CBC)
He said that many evacuees he was in contact with struggled in Winnipeg because they came with very little money, and many had no way to stay connected with the news back home.
He and his wife tried to invite evacuees over for dinner every night and took some evacuees sightseeing. He also attempted to get evacuees free transit passes and free entertainment in the city, similar to what he had seen evacuees get in Alberta, but had no luck.
"There was nothing, really, to help these people," he said.
When asked to respond to these criticisms, Boast said that he acknowledges that many people had difficult experiences during the evacuation and thinks there are lessons to be learned.
But he says that all choices made during the evacuation were made "with the honest intention of trying to provide safety and security in a very short period of time with a monumental number of variables that had to be organized."