The Fort McMurray Fires and Crisis Communications

The 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire—a fire larger than Prince Edward Island—was deemed by the Insurance Bureau of Canada as the largest insured disaster in Canadian history, at an estimated cost of $4.9 billion CDN. Over 90,000 residents were evacuated and over 1,800 structures, from single-family homes to apartment buildings, were destroyed—affecting over 2,400 residences. Well before this assessment, a team of 68 dedicated communication practitioners served within the Regional Emergency Operations Centre for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (including the City of Fort McMurray) from May 1 to June 30, 2016 with the ultimate objective of keeping everyone in the community safe—an objective that evolved into a working mantra of “Safe, Resilient, Together.”

Participants will:

  • Discuss how technology played a big role in communicating during the crisis.
  • Hear why process is key.
  • Learn how unexpected challenges became opportunities.


Jordan Redshaw @jordanredshaw
Recovery Task Force Communications Manager
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
Jordan is a municipal communication specialist who has worked in the communications field for three municipalities. In his current role with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, he executed critical crisis communication through the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation and is the communication team lead for the ongoing recovery effort.

Diane Bégin, APR @dibegin
VP, Social Marketing & Brand Communications,
APEX Public Relations / ruckus Digital
Diane has worked in communication for over 15 years, primarily in the public and not-for-profit sectors, prior to working in an agency setting. Her background includes work in both western and eastern Canada, with significant experience in the area of government relations. She was one of the communication leaders during the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation from May to June 2016. Diane served five years on the CPRS Edmonton board and is now past president for CPRS Toronto. She also teaches digital and social media at the University of Toronto.