Aussie expats in Vancouver come together to help with bushfire relief
VANCOUVER -- For months, the world has been watching devastating scenes of Australia’s bushfire crisis unfold. For Aussie expats living in Vancouver, it hits close to home.
Tee Haynes has called Vancouver home for 10 years, but his family’s home is dangerously close to the fires burning in Batemans Bay, New South Wales.
"Half the family had left just after Boxing Day and all of a sudden the fires kicked up," Haynes told CTV News. "My family was really lucky that due to some wind changes it looks like the property will be ok. But most of the roads in the area have been closed down, so for tonnes of people there’s not even a 'it’s time to evacuate' because there’s no way to evacuate."
Haynes has two young boys and said he struggles to explain to them what’s happening. "My boy that‘s almost four I had some tears in my eyes as I was dropping him to daycare this morning and he said 'what’s wrong' and I’m like, the old country’s on fire."
The emotion of watching a country in crisis is spurring Australians living in Vancouver to try and help from afar.
From today until the end of the month, Moose’s Down Under will be donating $1 from the sale of every chicken parmigiana and meat pie to bushfire relief. There are more events being organized there in the coming weeks too, including a meat raffle on Australia Day weekend, Jan. 26.
Owner Corina Aquino has lived in Canada for 30 years. She started the pub 25 years ago because she missed Australia. She said she has a close connection to some of the firefighters.
"A few ex-employees that I’ve had here are actually involved in the fires, and they’ve been posting things on our Facebook and sending me messages that they’re doing ok," she said.
Local Australian Rules Football club West Coast Saints is also planning a fundraiser for Australia Day weekend at Castaway bar in Kitsilano.
"We’ll be looking to get as many sponsors, donators to put stuff forward that we can either raffle off or auction off or whatever we can to raise some money for those victims of the fires back home in Australia," said club member Morgan King. "It’s just horrifying to watch and to think that our beautiful country is pretty much being burnt to a crisp at the moment. Definitely necessary for us to sort of rally and get ourselves together for a fundraiser and send some money back home."
If you would like to help the bushfire relief effort in Australia, you can also make donations through the following links:
Salvation Army: The Salvation Army is supporting people and communities affected by the fires, including through offering financial assistance, material assistance, housing support and mental health support.
The Australian Red Cross: More than $5.4 million has been raised for the Red Cross since New Year’s Eve, but every bit counts.
Local fire services: