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Albertans raise money to help relief efforts amid ‘totally heartbreaking’ Australian wildfires

Albertans raise money to help relief efforts amid ‘totally heartbreaking’ Australian wildfires
WATCH: People in the Calgary area are getting a chance to help Australians deal with the devastating wildfires that have hit so many parts of the country. As Gil Tucker reports, the opportunity comes with a couple of fund-raising events that coincide with Australia Day.

People in the Calgary area are getting a chance to help Australians deal with the devastating wildfires that have hit so many parts of the country.

The opportunity comes with a couple of fund-raising events which coincide with Australia Day on Jan. 26.

Several local bands will hit the stage on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the George Traditional House, performing a benefit show to raise money for people and wildlife hit by the Australian fires.

READ MORE: ‘Unprecedented’ Australian bushfire season may have impacted half a billion animals: researcher

The event’s organizer, Ben Bromilow, is from Australia.

“Living so far away from home and seeing what’s going on down there, it’s totally heartbreaking,” Bromilow said. “It’s like you want to get on a plane and go down and do something, but obviously not being trained firefighters or anything like that, we are just like — [we’ll] do what we know best and get some musicians together and see if we can help any way we can.”

The George is located in the Avenida Place Shopping Centre in southeast Calgary.

Skiers and snowboarders will also get a chance to contribute on Sunday, Jan. 26, as the Nakiska Ski Area hosts a fundraiser as part of its annual Australia Day celebrations.

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The resort is bringing in a cotton candy machine from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with proceeds from sales going to the Red Cross in Australia.

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Two-thirds of Nakiska’s 233 employees are from Australia, many of them with close connections to the crisis back home.

“Both my parents take in rescued animals, so my mom has some koalas in her house and they’re very cute, but a lot of them are quite burnt,” ski school worker Renee Knight said. “They’re just trying to do whatever they can and trying to house a lot of people who have lost their homes.”

READ MORE: Scientists in Australia search for surviving members of rare species amid wildfires

“My brother actually maintains the helicopters that drop the water down on the fires, so I’ve been hearing quite a lot and he’s in the thick of it and it’s pretty horrific,” guest services worker Samantha Mowad said.

“But Australia is quite resilient. We are resilient people, so I think we will bounce back.”