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NNSL photo

Tanner, Mitchell, Thomas, Martha and Qablu Porter relax at the Capital Suites after losing their trailer in a fire. - Joyce MacDonald/NNSL photo

Fire victims rebuild their lives

Chris Hunsley
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 05/04) - Left homeless and without belongings after fire ravaged her trailer, Martha Porter was unsure how she and her five children would survive.

But thanks to help from Yellowknife organizations and residents, the family has been able to get back on its feet.

After a week in temporary accommodations at Capital Suites -- courtesy of the Department of Health and Social Services -- and short-term housing at Rockhill apartments, the Porter family has been able to move into a more permanent dwelling at Sisson's Court.

Things will now start to get back to normal, Martha's 16-year-old daughter Thea explained.

"The family acknowledged they got a huge amount of support from the community," deputy fire chief Clem St. Croix said.

At the family's request, future donations made to the fire department on the Porter family's behalf will be forwarded to the Salvation Army or YWCA. The donations will go to families with greater needs, said St. Croix.

Students and staff at Sir John Franklin high school and Mildred Hall also found themselves in the giving spirit. They raised more than $3,000 to help their classmates.

Grade 8 students at Mildred Hall -- where Mitchell and Qablu Porter attend school -- sold hug-a-grams for 50 cents each, helping to raise $1,000.

"I don't remember anything like this before," said Yasemin Heyck, principal of the school.

"There's a really tight-knit feeling here, though, and people really stand up for each other."

Over at Sir John Grade 11 student Thea Porter found herself in the principal's office Oct. 27 for an uncommon reason. The school had collected almost $2,000 to help with her family's needs.

"She's such a special girl and I think that's why the teachers got so involved," said Anne-Mieke Cameron, principal of Sir John, said as she presented her with a cheque.

Thea arrived at school Oct. 4, the morning after her family trailer at 20 Larocque Crescent burned to the ground. She didn't even tell her teachers, Cameron said.

"I couldn't believe she didn't tell anybody." The shy and quiet student was visibly moved when presented with the cheque.

"(I'm) overwhelmed," she said of the donation from the teachers and school.

Along with the cheque, Sir John also donated some athletic wear so the young volleyball player would have something to wear at an upcoming tournament.

Thankful for the clothes, Porter said she would leave it up to her mother what to do with the money.

-- with files from Joyce MacDonald