In a room charged with energy and emotion, dozens of volunteers sorted and packed 12 metric tonnes of household necessities into care packages for flood-affected members of the Siksika Nation in southern Alberta.
“My community is washed right out . . . There’s a few people living back there, but it will never be the same again.”
— Warren Drunken Cheif, Siksika First Nation councilor
The upcoming move to semi-permanent housing after losing their homes in last June’s flood is a big step forward for displaced Siksika residents, who have been living in local hotel rooms and temporary trailers since summer.
“We had 15 minutes to get out. We left with a week’s worth of clothes and that’s it,” adds Siksika community resident Kelly Running Rabbit, who lived for months in a hotel room with her three children. “We’re making it the best we can.”
The idea to create care packages was the result of research and discussion between TransCanada’s community relations liaison and Siksika Nation’s chief, elder, tribal manager, flood relief project manager and other stakeholders.
“For us this started when we learned that Siksika was affected greatly by the flooding back in June” says Patricia Poulton, TransCanada’s community and aboriginal relations liaison.
“With this initiative our hope is that we can give them a little bit of warmth and appreciation. To show we understand the struggle that they’ve gone through. What we’re trying to achieve is to be friendly, to give them a hand and to help them out.”
Key partners came together to help the community in need by providing volunteers, resources and $50,000 worth of purchased goods from TransCanada. The care packages included sheets, blankets and towels — much-needed essentials for new homes.
Partners for the initiative included Costco, which stored the purchased goods until Siksika was ready to receive them, and Highland Moving, which transported the care package items to the Siksika Community Centre for assembly. Long-time TransCanada community partner Stephen’s Backpacks also worked with the 45 employee and community volunteers to streamline the assembly process. With their help, volunteers assembled, packed and delivered nearly 900 care packages in a matter of hours.
“I was really glad to have the opportunity to spend the day giving back. It was very moving to hear the Chief and Council speak and to hear the devastating stories from the past seven months. It felt good to know I was making a positive impact on the families, even in a small way.”
— Angela Poafpybitty, a TransCanada employee volunteer
Tears, smiles and hugs flowed freely as speakers talked about the impact the care packages will have.
“TransCanada has such a big heart; [they’re] angels in disguise. It’s overwhelming. I’m very thankful for them,” said Running Rabbit. “If I could hug all of them I would.”
TransCanada is committed to supporting our long-term relationships with Aboriginal communities. Over the holidays, TransCanada held a toy drive and worked with Stephen’s Backpacks to provide backpacks to the youngest of Siksika Nation’s flood-affected victims.