It’s only been a few days since Trustin Herrington from Nasonworth, New Brunswick was forced to evacuate the oil sands camp where he worked near Fort McMurray.
“When I drove out that night, when we left there were people giving out gas on the side of the roads that said ‘Stay strong,’ and that just stuck with me and that’s all we could think of you know, ‘stay strong,’” Trustin said.
Trustin arrived back in New Brunswick on Saturday morning, unemployed and uncertain of his own future.
Instead of looking for work, though, he is making t-shirts and selling them to raise money for fire victims, each one reading “You are Strong Fort Mac.”
Trustin says $5 from the sale of every t-shirt will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross, and in turn those donations will be matched by the federal government.
“I know a lot of people that have lost just everything and your heart just swallows and you feel it in the pit of your stomach and I almost get upset thinking about it,” he said.
Trustin already had a small business on the side making t-shirts and hats for people working in the oil sands called Crude Lifestyle.
The $32 cost of the shirts covers the donation, the garment, printing and all shipping costs to anywhere in Canada.
His wife Julie also lived and worked in the camps and says it’s important to support “your own.”
“You work with these people, but they become like your family because you are with them 24/7, for an extended period of time —; they are more like family than they are friends,” Julie said.
As for their own financial future, like so many Maritimes forced to flee Fort Mac, Trustin says it’s uncertain.
“I don’t even know if the camp is still there and if there is a place for me to back to to stay while I work, I am not even sure,” Trustin said.
Julie is now a student at the New Brunswick Community College, her husband’s salary is their only source of income.
“I think it’s the not knowing that is the hardest it is stressful. We are very uncertain as to when and how be will get back to work,” she said.
Trustin says Fort McMurray has given so much for his family over the years, that he just has to give back.
“If we can do anything to help, I feel like it’s my duty to help,” Trustin said.