Town of Fort Smith starts memorial fund for victims of recent deadly plane crash

Community members in Fort Smith, N.W.T., are shown here attending a vigil on Jan. 24 for those who died in a Northwestern Air plane crash. The municipal government recently launched fundraising campaigns to help the victims’ families and the lone crash survivor. (Natalie Pressman/CBC)

The Town of Fort Smith is fundraising for the families of the six people who died in a Northwestern Air plane crash less than two weeks ago, and for the crash’s only survivor.

A Northwestern Air flight was carrying workers from Fort Smith — located about 305 kilometres south of Yellowknife, along the Alberta border — to Diavik diamond mine on Jan. 23, when it crashed less than a kilometre away from Fort Smith’s airport. Six people died and the crash’s lone survivor was injured.

The municipal government recently launched two fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe: a memorial fund and a survivor fund. Mayor Fred Daniels said he hopes the fundraisers will help community members heal.

“It’s going to take a long time to get over this,” Daniels told CBC News.

“The best we can do is help one another and be strong… There are families that are going through stuff right now. If we could ease it somehow, make it a little better, then we do that.”

As of 9:45 a.m. MT Sunday, the memorial fund had raised nearly $8,500 and the survivor fund had received more than $5,300.

Proceeds from the memorial fund will be distributed evenly among the victims’ families. Money from the survivor fund will go to Kurt Macdonald, as he recovers from his injuries.

Rio Tinto Group, the company that owns the Diavik diamond mine, is covering all fees associated with the GoFundMe pages, which allows all the donations to go directly to the families, said Fort Smith deputy mayor Dianna Korol.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Fort Smith gathers to remember plane crash victims and support surviving loved ones, CBC News

Finland: Finland’s only aircraft manufacturer loses prototype in Lapland crash, Yle News

Norway: Electric planes could arrive sooner than we think in Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Helicopter crash might add power to Russia’s push for new base in Svalbard, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Poor cockpit communication behind fatal plane crash in Arctic Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: Man survives being struck by a plane on sea ice north of Alaska, Alaska Public Media

Sarah Krymalowski, CBC News

Sarah Krymalowski is a reporter with CBC North in Iqaluit. You can reach her at

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