A single Edmonton mother of three is devastated after the home she was renting went up in flames Saturday morning.
“It’s traumatic. It’s having everything that you’ve had and ever worked for just gone. Your Christmas tree, everything else that goes with it is gone,” Vanessa Schaub said.
The fire broke out in the home in the area of 121 Avenue and 93 Street at around 10 a.m.
The house was destroyed in the blaze. The windows of the home remained boarded up Wednesday afternoon, which was the first time Schaub returned to the house after Saturday’s fire.
READ MORE: Firefighters battle cold temperatures to douse northeast Edmonton house fire
Schaub doesn’t have insurance and said everything she had was lost in the fire, including everything she gathered for her kids for Christmas. But what’s most devastating for her is losing the ashes of her unborn son.
“I was still pregnant with him when he passed away. He was a twin. I never got to know him. That’s all I had of him was his ashes,” she said, holding back tears. “I cannot recover those. Everything’s gone. Nothing is salvageable.
“I have to rebuild everything. Everything. I have things that have travelled with me since many years ago and I can’t get them back. Pictures I’ll never get back. My son’s ashes. None of those are ever going to come back. I worked so hard to make that a home for my family and you’re sitting there and you’re watching the fire and you’re helpless and you can’t do anything, that’s what hurts.”
Schaub said she was cooking Saturday morning when she stepped out of the kitchen to use the washroom. When she came back the fire had taken over.
“Something went wrong,” she said. “It just went out of control. I couldn’t do anything. I noticed that the flames were on the ceiling by that time and by then everything was gone. The most important thing was to get everyone out.”
Schaub and her three kids – aged seven, four and 20 months – made it out of the home safely. She’s been staying with friends while her kids have been at Kids Kottage, an organization that takes in children for up to 72 hours in emergency situations. Come Thursday, Schaub said she’s not sure what she’ll do.
“Just trying to find something that works for my kids. That’s what matters are my kids,” she said. “I want a home. I want to rebuild, give my kids another shot at everything, another Christmas.”
The exact cause of the fire has not been determined.
Thanks to the generosity of Edmontonians, Global Edmonton’s annual campaign to gather toys and other items for women and children fleeing domestic violence wrapped up another wildly successful donation drive Wednesday.
Since 2004, the Give Me Shelter campaign has seen Edmontonians drop by Global’s TV studio to bring goods that are later given to five women’s shelters: Win House, WINGS, A Safe Place, LaSalle Residence and Lurana Shelter.
READ MORE: Give Me Shelter campaign offers hope to women and children who escape domestic violence
According to the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters’ (ACWS) Annual Provincial Shelter data, between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016, 5,032 women and 4,682 children were admitted to Alberta emergency shelters. That same report said 8,076 women and 8,283 children were turned away from ACWS member shelters due to a lack of capacity.
The holiday campaign was started by former Global Edmonton news anchor Lynda Steele.
-With files from Quinn Ohler.
View the photo gallery below of items raised through the Give Me Shelter campaign getting loaded onto trucks Wednesday.
Watch below: On Nov. 20, 2016, Global Edmonton launched its 13th annual Give Me Shelter campaign. Here’s a report Quinn Ohler filed about the campaign for Global News that day.
Watch below: Gord Steinke speaks with Lynda Steele who started Global Edmonton’s Give Me Shelter campaign 13 years ago. The campaign is aimed at helping families who are escaping domestic violence during the holidays.
As the NDP government looks for ways to kick start Alberta’s economy, the partnership building the Sturgeon Refinery near Redwater, north of Edmonton, feels it has a very strong case to make.
Phase one of the $8.5-billion refinery is scheduled to begin operating in late 2017. To make that deadline, a small army of men and women are on site every day.
“We have 7,500 people working out here today,” said Ian MacGregor, president of North West Refining, which has partnered with Canadian Natural Upgrading Limited to build the refinery.
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Along with employment, MacGregor says they have an environmental case as well. The refinery will use carbon capture technology, capturing 40,000 tonnes of CO2 per day, then move it down a pipeline for enhanced oil recovery in central Alberta.
With the first phase entering the final stages, the partnership is now positioning itself to expand.
“We always conceived this as three identical copies of the exact same thing,” MacGregor said. “Once we did the engineering for phase one, we’ve more or less got the engineering done now.”
The next step is to begin a conversation with the provincial government. The province is an integral part of the new refinery. It is providing bitumen and paying for it to be upgraded to diesel.
“We agreed that we would both go back and have a look at it after we got to a certain point in the construction process,” MacGregor said. “We think we’re nearing that point now.”
The NDP government campaigned on adding more value to Alberta’s natural resources, but isn’t jumping at the opportunity to expand this partnership just yet.
“Government hasn’t made any decision with regard to further phases of the Sturgeon Refinery,” Minister of Energy Marg McCuaig-Boyd said in a statement. “We are awaiting completion of phase one so we can assess its operations and make sure that phase two is in the public interest.”
MacGregor believes the case has been made, and when the time is right, he will approach the government about moving ahead with helping Alberta’s economy.
“We’re making something of value, we’re doing it in a low CO2 way, and we’re making something we can export with the existing infrastructure we have.”
For the homeless, holidays are hard. But a heartfelt concept that’s been running for the past decade is helping make their Christmas a little brighter in Calgary.
The Drop-In & Rehab Centre Society profiles homeless clients on their website in hopes of matching them with a generous donor. There are dozens of wishes left to fill on the Calgary Christmas WishList.
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Tracy Korobanik, 47, has been living at the DI for four years. He spends his days volunteering in the shelter’s laundry room. He spends 12 hours a day there, seven days a week.
“I like to give back to the DI. They house me, feed me, clothe me.”
He says he’s grateful for the little he does have, because it’s not the material things that bring him comfort through his struggles.
“Down in laundry, it’s quiet–a safe haven,” Korobanik said. “It’s like a family. It’s like going home.”
His wish? A USB stick that allows him to save a cherished comfort in the chaos.
“I put on the headphones and I escape, watch a movie.”
The executive director of the DI said she’s humbled hearing what little so many of the clients have asked for.
“To ask for something non-monetary–that every homeless person be safe or that everyone be cared for,” Debbie Newman said. “It goes beyond what we normally think about.”
“There’s the gifts that nobody would ask for, right?”
But it’s what those gifts represent that’s invaluable.
Korobanik feels that knowing someone cared enough to wrap a present just for him to open Christmas morning is special.
“It makes me feel like a kid again. Everyone should get one gift at Christmas.”