Sikh relief organization offers aid across flood-ravaged B.C.


Pillows for evacuees in Abbotsford, pizza for dozens of truck drivers stuck in Kamloops, homemade meals choppered in to hundreds who have been sleeping in their cars in Hope. Those are some of the ways Khalsa Aid Canada has mobilized volunteers in B.C. in the wake of disastrous flooding.

The international Sikh organization has core teams in cities and towns across the province, ready to respond in an emergency.

National Director Jatinder Singh says volunteers, both regulars and those compelled to do something in the face of this catastrophic event, have mobilized in Vancouver, Kelowna, Kamloops and Abbotsford.

“Social media right now is flooded with people asking to help. So we’ve had volunteers come out,” he explains, adding their effort gets a lot of help from gurdwaras.

“I see the outpouring of help provided by the Sikh community, this is essentially what we do. I mean Khalsa Aid is known for doing this kind of work, but the broader Sikh community is obviously built for this.”

In Kamloops, efforts have centred around helping feed about 35 truck drivers

“Those truckers are refusing to leave their loads. We did offer them motels to stay at but they prefer to stay with their trucks just for the sake of safety,” Singh says, adding

In addition to dropping off pizza, the group has been preparing “langhar,” a Punjabi word that refers to a communal meal.

In Kelowna, the team got help from the Gurdwara in nearby Oliver to prepare meals to deliver to people near Princeton and Manning Park.

“They dropped off warm meals to many of the truckers, and the other people who have been stuck there as well, the general public.”

When the Abbotsford team found out something crucial was in short-supply, they rounded up donations.

“We just delivered I think 300 pillows to the local trade centre where the evacuees have been going. They had other bedding, but when we approached them and asked them what they needed, they informed us that they essentially didn’t have any pillows.”

Transporting anything out of Vancouver and into the affected areas is virtually impossible by land, so the team in that city got food to Hope by hiring helicopters.

Singh wants those impacted to know that the group is set up to keep helping for the long haul.

“We’re going to stick this out until the emergency is over, and the assistance required will change over time. Right now it’s to feed people, provide them with warmth, water. Bbut over time, it will change and then we’ll be there prepared — and happy to help.”

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