People at Edmonton Airport were given an unexpected surprise by 281 South African firefighters who’d just arrived after being invited to Canada to help tackle the country’s wildfires.
The firefighters broke into a traditional soldier’s song in the arrivals hall after undertaking the whopping 16,000km journey to the city from Johannesburg on Sunday morning.
The group are in the country to help the fight against wildfires that have engulfed the province of Alberta as part of a program run by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre - which several other countries sign up to.
They are drawn from multiple regions in South Africa under the Working On Fire programme - which pulls young people out of poverty to help them with a job - so as not to deplete the resources on the fire services they belong to.
Having only met each other the day before, Khomt Alucie told CBCNews that the song was part of the bonding process for her and her fellow firefighters.
“It gives us moral courage, it gives us teamwork,” said Khomt.
“If we become tired in the fire we sing. It’s not something you practice, it’s in the soul.”
After they had finished their song, the firefighters were greeted by locals including a man from Anzac - a town that had been evacuated over the fires - who thanked each one of them for coming while holding a Canadian flag tied to a hockey stick.
They will now join the roughly 2,300 fire service personnel from Canada and the US fighting the wildfires over the next 14 days of their deployment.