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Heavy smoke from wildfires in northern Alberta and British Columbia fill the air at 9am Mountain Daylight Time in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023.Bill Braden/The Canadian Press

YELLOWKNIFE – Smoke has forced Yellowknife to cancel a celebration marking the return of residents to the city after a wildfires-prompted evacuation that lasted for weeks.

The Northwest Territories capital had planned a "Welcome Home" gathering on Saturday at Somba K’e Civic Plaza, featuring live music, bouncy castles and a shop-local contest.

But the city posted a notice on its website that due to poor air quality, the celebration has been cancelled due to safety concerns, although the shop-local promotion was still on.

‘A very long wait’: Yellowknife prepares for people to return home

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a special air-quality statement on Saturday for Yellowknife, saying "smoke is causing or expected to cause poor air quality and reduced visibility."

Everyone in the city of approximately 20,000 was ordered to leave in mid-August due to a nearby wildfire, and they were only allowed to return on Sept. 6 when the evacuation order was downgraded to an alert.

Yellowknife says on its website there is free access to its field house track and indoor playground until air quality improves.

The ones who held the line at Yellowknife

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