A Regina community centre is continuing to collect donations for wildfire evacuees despite the province asking for everything to go through the Salvation Army.
On Tuesday, volunteers carried piles of clothing and blankets to different tables around the gym at The Gathering Place, sorting them. A few people dug through the piles, searching for their size, and filling bags to take back to the arena, university, or hotel where they’re currently living.
Donations have come in from nearby bands and agencies.
“We’ve also put out a call and received an overwhelming response by the citizens of Regina that just have put themselves in the position of the evacuees, and know how hard it must be,” explained Erica Beaudin, urban services manager, Regina treaty status indian services.
People filtered in and out of the building on Tuesday morning, bringing in bags and boxes filled with clothing, shoes, and blankets.
When it comes to the government’s request, Beaudin said their group would never discourage any agency or organization who was in a position to help from doing that.
“We understand, especially government, has their rules and their regulations, and we respect that. Where we differ is that we feel that it is our responsibility as a First Nations organization, as the Treaty 4 organization, to assist our Treaty 6, 8, and 10 citizens with what they may need.”
She explained that they’re not saying they’re providing better services than the government, just that they’re enhancing services.
One of the reasons the government wants individuals and groups to stop dealing with donations is ensuring fairness in distribution to evacuees. But Beaudin said fairness is the last thing they’re worried about.
We’re worried about clothing people, we’re worried about feeding people down-home-cooked meals, we’re worried about offering them some time away from, basically what is a refugee camp, just by virtue of what it is. We’re not too concerned about that, we’re just concerned about helping who we can.”
She says many of the evacuees are having a tough time.
“They’re sitting here in Regina, anywhere from four to eight hours away from home, wondering what’s going on in their community, not having clean clothes, sleeping with strangers beside them.”
Along with clothing, The Gathering Place is also providing meals to evacuees, as well as activities in the afternoons for teens, and activities in the evenings like movies, karaoke, and bingos for everyone.