'This is where home is': Fort McMurray resident starts new life in the Maritimes
Three months after the devastating wildfire in Fort McMurray, most of the Maritimers displaced have returned to work and to rebuild.
But some, like Ayisha Corey, have decided to come back to the East Coast permanently. She had lived in the Maritimes in the past, and had a tough decision to make.
"We didn't know, everybody assumed we'd be going home soon,” said Corey. “But once we had a really good idea that this isn't going to close anytime soon, we decided to come home and this is where home is for us."
Corey was among the thousands forced to flee back in May.
"When we called in, the lady said, ‘You need to leave right now.’ And that's what we did. We packed up the boys," said Corey. "The fire was one thing but how people responded was another. Just sheer chaos.”
Corey is now in the trucking industry – one of 5,000 people J.D. Irving companies are hiring in Atlantic Canada between now and 2018.
The industrial giant says it is hiring because it needs to fill newly created positions, but it also needs to replace thousands of older workers who are due for retirement.
The company says it will hire people in virtually every part of their operations, including at the Halifax shipyard where hundreds more people will be needed before the workforce reaches a peak.
"We're looking to grow them at home in partnership with our local colleges and universities,” said Mary Keith of J.D. Irving. “We're looking to bring them home and we've had a number of people who have come home recently from the west."
Corey says her family always knew they could come back to their old home.
"Saint John was home, and in the back of my mind, it was always the place I needed to get back to," she said.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron