What is Happening?
Wildfires are occurring in major cities in Canada including Kelowna and Yellowknife. In Kelowna, wildfires started on August 15th and had spread its way to a residential neighbourhood in West Kelowna. As of August 19th, the wildfire had expanded over 11,000 hectares. Nearly 30,000 residents were given evacuation orders and another 36,000 were told to be under alert. In Yellowknife, wildfires have been happening since June. As of August 18th, over 19,000 Yellowknife residents have evacuated.
Why are these Wildfires Happening?
Over the past years, wildfires have worsened with wildfires increasing in intensity, severity, size, and duration (NASA). In fact, 2023 has been Canada’s worse wildfire season ever recorded, with months of peak wildfire season left. As of August 2023, over 13 million hectares of land have been burned with more to come. To put that into perspective, the national 10-year average for wildfires have been 2.2 million hectares burned. Factors such as climate change, higher temperatures, and drier conditions have all contributed to the rampant spread of these wildfires.
How can you Support?
There are many ways you can help support the displaced wildfire evacuees. This may include:
- Donating to relief organizations/nonprofits who are actively supporting these victims
- Volunteering: You can volunteer your time to organizations to help distribute supplies, provide support to evacuees, and help with other operations.
- Provide Supplies: Donate supplies to local nonprofits, relief organizations, and charities that are supporting the wildfire evacuees. You can donate items such as food, water, non-perishable canned items, clothing, and other basic necessities.
- Fundraise: Help raise money to support the wildfire evacuees in Canada. You can create these campaigns on platforms such as GoFundMe or Chuffed. You can send the fundraiser proceeds to relief organizations or nonprofits who can help distribute.
- Pet Support: Many people will need assistance with the care of their pets while they are relocating. You can help offer assistance to take in these pets temporarily.
- Follow Government Orders: Keep up with local, provincial, and federal news. Avoid nonessential travel to surrounding areas to keep highways clear for locals who are trying to evacuate and for emergency response teams.
Relief Organizations/Nonprofits that you can Support
We’ve narrowed down a list of 5 organizations that you can immediately donate to make an impact. Each organization impacts a different aspect of the relief effort and you can donate to the cause that speaks to you.
1. Food: Central Okanagan Food Bank
With evacuation orders in effect for many areas of West Kelowna and Kelowna, the Central Okanagan Food Bank has mobilized emergency response measures to assist those who have been impacted and are in need of food aid. Donations to our Wildfire Relief Efforts will assist in the distribution of food to those facing urgent needs. We appreciate your support.
2. Recovery: Yellowknife Community Foundation
The purpose of the Resilient Community Fund is to support communities across the Northwest Territories in long-term recovery efforts to rebuild after emergency response and environmental crisis.
3. General Relief: United Way BC
Starting in 2021, United Way BC has been working with communities and individuals impacted by the BC wildfires in their recovery efforts. Your donations helps us support a variety of programs and essential supports that are critical to BC residents as they recover emotionally and physically from the devastation of wildfires within our local communities. Funds go towards addressing important needs like food assistance, trauma, and mental health support.
4. Animals: Northwest Territories SPCA
Devastating Wildfires have forced many communities to evacuate. Many animals were left behind in the emergency. NWT SPCA, Vets Without Borders, many volunteers and businesses are doing their part to get animals out of danger, get them medical care if needed, house them and reunite them with their owners. This is an enormous undertaking that will continue for weeks. We are asking for your help to help cover costs of this incredible challenge.
5. Indigenous Community Centre :Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society
Our hearts go out to all affected by the wildfires. We have our doors open for respite from smoke and for food for anyone in need. Thank you to all the firefighters and to all the community members coming together.
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