SFU community contributes to BC flood relief efforts

The donation drive directed priority support to remote Indigenous communities

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Donation boxes stacked on top of each other with a “DONATE HERE” sign on top
The drive yielded over 2,000 essential items and a $26,000 cash donation. PHOTO: SFU Ancillary Services

By: Yelin Gemma Lee, News Writer

Groups from the SFU community rallied together to organize a donation drive to aid BC communities impacted by the November 2021 floods. According to SFU News, the total donations added up to over 2,442 essential items such as food, toiletries, and toys, in addition to $26,000 cash. The cash donations were used to purchase essential supplies such as hygiene products, medical face masks, and clean-up supplies. All food donations were matched per pound by Chartwells. 

Parts of the Pacific Northwest received historic levels of rain in November 2021. This led to heavy floods in areas like the City of Abbotsford, where residents were issued evacuation orders. The floods damaged major highways and caused supply disruptions into the Lower Mainland.   

The university’s response group consisted of representatives from SFU’s three campuses, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS),  and the Graduate Student Society, among others. Major community partners who showed their support included Nesters UniverCity and Polaris Realty. 

One of the main collection sites was in the new Student Union Building. Over several weeks in November, the group saw a supportive response from the SFU community. In addition to lending their space and organizational efforts, the SFSS also gave $10,000 to support the donation drive. 

“Our focus as a group was to target remote communities and we were able to do that. The SFSS is hoping to do donation drives now in the future not only in times of crisis, but to continue to support our local communities as well,” said SFSS vice-president events and student affairs Jess Dela Cruz to SFU News

The response group targeted remote Indigenous urban communities where essential supplies were cut off due to infrastructure loss. These target communities included Indigenous communities in Lytton, Spences Bridge, Siska, Boston Bar, Nicomen, and Nooaitch. 

Recent research shows “about 81% of the 985 Indigenous land reserves had some flood exposure that impacted either population or residential properties.” While “residential property-level flood exposure is similar between non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities,” Indigenous reserve lands have a higher “socioeconomic vulnerability” to floods in comparison to non-Indigenous communities. 

According to SFU News, the donations were delivered to organizations such as Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau Toy Drive, First Nations Emergency Services Society, and the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Association

Although this campaign is now closed and no longer accepting donations, there are several organizations with allocated support for BC flood relief including the Abbotsford Community Foundation, United Way, Canadian Red Cross, and Chilliwack YMCA.