Christmas Miracle – Fort McMurray Strong

What does Christmas mean to you and your family? There’s no right answer and there’s no wrong answer. Our experience flying hundreds of thousands of people home each year has shown us that it means something different to everyone.

It could be a time to bring out your loudest sweater for the annual ugly sweater party. It may be a perfect opportunity to binge-watch seasonal movies like Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, Love Actually, or the Die Hard trilogy. It could also be a time to hit up the ski hill, or head down to the beach.

For some, Christmas is a time to continue annual traditions like finding the perfect ornament for your tree, or spending all day in your pajamas eating too much food and a chocolate or two. Or ten.

For many, the words “Christmas season” means spending time with those you love – your family and the close friends who fill your life with joy. It’s a time to relive old memories and create new ones.

For most, Christmas is a time where we long for one simple thing – home.

This Christmas, for a lot of residents of Fort McMurray, home just isn’t the same. In fact, home may never be the same. After an incredibly challenging year, a lot of families in Fort McMurray still don’t have a place to call home. And for many who do, it just doesn’t feel the same.

The community of Fort McMurray has been good to us over the years, so we decided to host an event where local families could have a bit of fun, celebrate the Christmas spirit and create new memories with their family.

We invited those affected by the fire to our Snowflake Soiree, and built a space for 1000 people. We had no idea whether anyone would actually show up, but as it turned out, they did. Have a look.

As you can see, it was an emotional evening. We knew we would be able to host an event that would have a positive impact on those in attendance, but we never expected it to have such a profound impact on us.

The event was magical and it’s very hard to put into words what it felt like to be there. So, here are some impressions from people who were there.

“It takes my mind off the challenges we’ve been facing for the last seven months and lets us just enjoy the moment.”

“Thank you for reminding us of hope. We didn’t even know it, but this is just what we needed.”

“Never has a winter’s night felt so warm.”

“We weren’t even sure that we were going to do Christmas this year. After tonight, I can tell you that Christmas is on. Whatever it looks like this year, it’s on. We owe it to ourselves, and to our kids.”

We hope that this year’s Christmas Miracle helps you get into the spirit of the season. If you feel inspired, spread the cheer with the #WestJetChristmas hashtag and help get others going too.

Merry Christmas everyone!