How Kelowna’s McDougall Creek Fire has impacted students, and what aid exists.
Avery Nowicki (They/Them) // Communities Editor
Within one week, Canadians have been faced with two massive forest fires affecting both Yellowknife, N.T. and Kelowna, B. C., sending residents fleeing from their homes through direct highways and last minute flights, having no choice but to leave their cities to burn.
Kelowna’s McDougall Creek fire has plumed over the last week, altering size from 1,100 hectares to 6,800 hectares overnight. BC Emergency Minister Bowinn Ma reported that 27,000 community members were sent on evacuation order in B.C. and 35,000 on evacuation alert.
Ren Zhang, a Courier contributor, shared, “I remember seeing pictures of my friends standing on the riverbank at night, watching the fires on the Westside rage like lines of angry light against the darkness. My mother had never been so happy for a rainfall when it came.”
Cassical music major, Azeen Maleki, a classical music major, was living in Kelowna when the fires flared out of control, “I’d been working on an opera there. It was meant to be my stage directing debut, though due to the fire, our performances were completely canceled right before opening night.” Azeen and her team had been in production for two months, “The cancellation, though hard on these artists, was a small price to pay in comparison to people’s safety.” Azeen ended by saying. “I personally know multiple people who had to evacuate their homes in West Bank and Glenmore. Some are able to go home, but others don’t know if they’ve even got a home to return to. It’s scary and It’s real but our community came together.” Azeen said that they had seen folks offering help wherever they could. In the form of donations, rides, housing, and so much more, this community has banded together to help.
“It was really worrying hearing that the friends in my neighborhood had been evacuated.” said Matt Shipley, a recent graduate from CapU That was the turning point for me—realizing that although we’d seen wildfires in the valley in the past, this was truly a whole different beast that affected not just faceless suburbanites but my friends and family directly. Rushing around my home and frantically packing everything I couldn’t afford to burn was a frightening wake-up call.”
Shipley ended his recollection with a discussion on climate change, stating “As climate change continues, fires like this are only growing bigger and more frequent. After this one, I can’t help but wonder if my home’s destruction is not a matter of if, but an eventual when.”
Those seeking to help community members in need, may aid by donating to CanadaHelps.org/BC-Wildlife-relief or Redcross.ca/donate.