Australia Day in Vancouver focuses on bushfire relief
VANCOUVER -- Parts of Vancouver turned green and gold Sunday in celebration of Australia Day, but this year’s festivities were focused on the bushfire crisis, with a number of events held to raise money for relief efforts.
At Castaway Bar in Kitsilano, local Australia Football Club the West Coast Saints planned to raise more than $6,000 through a silent auction, raffle and donations.
“The majority is going to go to a charity called Greening Australia, which is focused on getting the ecosystem back and replanting trees and getting the wildlife their homes back,” organizer Morgan King said.
A new beer went on sale at 3 Dogs Brewing in White Rock. All proceeds from the sale of “Didgeridog Sparkling Aussie Ale” will be donated, along with money from sales of shirts and shrimp cooked on the barbie.
Saturday night, dozens of people gathered at the Rio Theatre for a Mad Max movie marathon, with proceeds from the screenings of the four films in the series being donated to the Australian Red Cross.
“You sit and watch your country burn and you can only sit there for so long before you gotta get up and do something,” said co-oragnizer Tee Haines.
Long-running Australian pub Moose's Down Under has raised around $8,000 through various fundraisers so far this month, including events across the Australia Day weekend. Owner Corina Aquino says they’re still planning more events in the coming weeks.
“It's going to be a long-term process of rebuilding Australia after the fires, so we're going to keep it up as long as we can," Aquino said.
The bushfire emergency is ongoing. Around 60 fires are still burning.
Some 100,000 square kilometres of land has been ravaged by fire since September. More than 30 people have been killed, along with an estimated half a billion animals.
This week, six fire experts from B.C. will be returning home from deployments in Australia, and dozens more Canadian firefighters are still there.