Fort McMurray Benefit Concert Raises $2 Million

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FIRE AID CONCERT
Fans cheer during the opening of the Fire Aid concert to benefit Fort McMurray, Alta. | Amber Bracken/CP
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EDMONTON — Organizers say a benefit concert to raise money for victims of the Fort McMurray wildfire has hit its goal of raising $2 million.

Officials with Fire Aid sent out a tweet after the show Wednesday night, saying the money from the "unforgettable concert'' would be going to the United Way in the northern Alberta city.

Alberta honky tonker Corb Lund co-hosted the event at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium with Great Big Sea frontman Alan Doyle.


Others who performed included Blue Rodeo, Ian Tyson, Randy Bachman and Nickelback, whose members hail from Hanna, Alta.

The money was raised from the sale of more than 30,000 tickets, corporate sponsorships and donations.

It was nowhere near a sell-out, however, as the seating capacity at the football stadium is about 60,000.

"It kind of sounds a little cornball — it makes me proud about people here.'" —Corb Lund

Lund admitted before the concert that he was a little nervous but was determined to help in the one way he can.

"Whenever these kinds of things happen, you sort of pitch in,'' he said. "If I drove a backhoe, I'd do that. But I play music.''

Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger said the band's involvement was a "no-brainer.''

"It was something we could help out with, and it feels amazing to be here and everyone's enjoying themselves,'' he said backstage. "It's a great cause.''

See photos from the concert. Article continues below.

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More than 80,000 people were forced from their homes on May 3 by the wildfire that spread through the oilsands capital. About 2,400 homes and buildings were destroyed.

Lund was in Italy when the destruction happened. He followed the chaos on Twitter.

He credited residents for handling the evacuation as well as possible, along with firefighters who battled the massive blaze and worked to save 90 per cent of the city.

The country crooner said as important as the fund-raising aspect is, he said it's even more important to show those affected by the fire that Canada cares about them. Other fundraisers and concerts have also been held across the country.

People in Alberta have been especially caring, Lund said.

"It kind of sounds a little cornball — it makes me proud about people here.''


The musicians donated their time, while airlines flew them in for free and hotels donated their accommodations.

"It's just remarkable to watch it all come together and to believe they could do it in such a tiny, short time frame is remarkable,'' said Dianne Shannon of the Fort McMurray United Way.

Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake called it "an incredible support mechanism'' for the people of Fort McMurray.

(CTV Edmonton, The Canadian Press)

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