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Northern neighbours offering support after Fort Smith, N.W.T., plane crash

Darlene Sibbeston, co-owner of Aunty's Korner Store, said it's important to be there for people, even if there's not much to say because the emotional impact of the crash is so huge. (Carla Ulrich/CBC - image credit)
Darlene Sibbeston, co-owner of Aunty's Korner Store, said it's important to be there for people, even if there's not much to say because the emotional impact of the crash is so huge. (Carla Ulrich/CBC - image credit)

People in and around Fort Smith, N.W.T., have been doing what they can to support their fellow community members as the town reels from Tuesday's plane crash that claimed six lives.

Aunty's Korner Store has been welcoming visitors with free coffee, co-owner Darlene Sibbeston told CBC.

It's important to just be there for people, she said, even if there's not much to say because the emotional impact of the loss is so huge.

"In one incident, having so much loss — I just knew it was going to be difficult for people to handle that," Sibbeston said.

"I'm just, you know, reeling from yesterday."

'We're in shock'

Town officials have also been inviting people to the community recreation centre for snacks and beverages.

Everybody knows everyone in the town, said Fort Smith deputy mayor Dianna Korol.

"We're in shock. We're still processing. The emotions are raw."

Korol said the town is very grateful to the businesses that are opening their doors to help those in need.

There are mental health supports available at the hospital, she added, and there will be a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening.

Dianna Korol, Fort Smith's deputy mayor, said everybody knows everyone in town.
Dianna Korol, Fort Smith's deputy mayor, said everybody knows everyone in town.

Dianna Korol, Fort Smith's deputy mayor, said everybody knows everyone in town. (Carla Ulrich/CBC)

The vigil starts around 6:45 p.m. at St. Joseph's Cathedral.

Meanwhile, in towns outside Fort Smith, people are also offering support to those impacted by the crash.

In Hay River, a three-hour drive from Fort Smith, the youth centre opened its doors to anyone needing a place to gather and process what has happened.

People can help themselves to free coffee or tea, sit by the fire, curl up in a blanket or use the computers and wifi, executive director Scott Cloutier said.

The N.W.T. might be a big place geographically, he added, but it's a small community when it comes to population, so people in Hay River are feeling sad for the people of Fort Smith.

"Even though I don't know yet who was on the flight ... I know that, regardless, it's going to be friends, family of people that I know and care about," he said.

"I'm one of those people that grew up in the era of having Mr. Rogers on television. And he has that famous quote that, you know, whenever something scary happens, look for the helpers. And I'm scared, so I always look to do that, and … when possible, I'd like to help as well."