Neighbour Day takes special significance in Calgary community after devastating fire
After the 2013 floods in Calgary, every third Saturday in June was officially declared Neighbour Day.
It’s a time to celebrate the support and community that was on display during the floods that happened four years ago.
In Sunalta, the Community Association saw it as an opportunity to support some people in their community that needed it the most after a devastating fire that happened earlier this month.
Dozens of people were displaced after a fire on June 5, which destroyed a building under construction and caused major damage to apartments beside it.
Jodie Wiebe was at her mother’s house at the time it happened when she received a call from the Calgary Fire Department about her home. She was in disbelief when she arrived at her apartment building.
“As soon as everybody got out that’s when the wall fell against the side of our building,” Wiebe said. “We had one lady who tripped and cut her forehead but other than that everybody got out, everybody was safe.”
Wiebe has been staying with her family since then, but said she knows that everything inside her home was likely damaged beyond repair.
“Three things went through my head when the fire chief called. Well I’m still alive, thank god everybody’s okay and mentally I just walked away from my stuff,” Wiebe said.
Daniel Isfaday, a full-time university student, moved to Canada two years ago and the fire left him homeless.
“I realized how much the homeless people are suffering because I tried it,” Isfaday said.
Since the fire, Isfaday has been staying wherever he could and was planning to find a new apartment Monday.
The Sunalta Community Association decided to try and fundraise to help residents with everything, from rent – to finding new homes.
President of the Association Tom Naested, said the support is truly representative of the community.
“It really is part of the heart and soul of our community so we want to try and support our residents as much as we can,” Naested said.
Rndsqr Home Builder was the developer of the building that burned down.
Founder Alkarim Devani said that the company set up a booth at Neighbour Day to help fundraise in partnership with the community association.
In addition to a Go Fund Me account, Rndsqr also accepted cash donations on site.
“These areas are small tight knit groups and we wanted to be able to actually add value to the community,” Devani said. “We just thought this would be a good way for us to partner with the community association and give back to some of those residents looking for whatever they need at this time.”
So far, the agencies have raised $6,000 dollars, with a goal of $40,000.
For those that were forced from their homes, the show of support on Neighbour Day was overwhelming.
Isfaday said “that” Saturday [Neighbour Day] really showed why he chose to move to this country two years ago.
“I heard before [that] Canada is diversity, Canada is hospitality, but today I am a witness,” Isfaday said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and residents have not been told when they will be able to return to their homes.
Communities across the city celebrated Neighbour Day with barbeques, bands and activities geared at bringing residents together.
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