October 04, 2021 (WASHINGTON D.C.) – Airlink is pleased to partner with Air Canada and the Air Canada Foundation to provide travel to Team Rubicon Canada volunteers. The flights will benefit approximately 30 volunteers traveling to British Columbia to help local families, including Indigenous communities, with clean-up and recovery operations after recent wildfires in Lytton. Volunteers flying into Kamloops Airport over several weeks will assist community members in removing and disposing of damaged infrastructure, collecting personal belongings from ashes, and preparing homes for rebuilding.
“The support of Air Canada, the Air Canada Foundation and Airlink following the Lytton wildfire has been absolutely critical to our disaster response efforts,” says Bryan Riddell, Chief Executive Officer at Team Rubicon Canada. “Air travel is a significant cost driver during operations, so having these flights provided allows our team to mobilize from across the continent, and maximize impact on the ground.”
British Columbia has experienced 1,453 wildfires in 2021, with 262 wildfires currently active in the province. The unprecedented scale and scope of these wildfires in British Columbia have required inter-provincial and international assistance. The Team Rubicon volunteers, also known as “Greyshirts,” are responding to a direct request from the local government for their specialized response capabilities, drawing on their experience in responding to the Ft. McMurray Wildfires in Alberta in 2016. Their initial team formed the core Emergency Operations Centre, working closely with the Chief Administrative Officer and Recovery Manager as well as Lytton’s Mayor and Council.
“Air Canada, the Air Canada Foundation and Team Rubicon Canada have been great long-time partners of Airlink and we are delighted that we could bring these organizations together to mount such a large and important mission,” said Steven J. Smith, President and CEO of Airlink. “The fires in British Columbia rival those on the US West Coast, and yet they’ve garnered very little media attention. Every flight that we support saves more than $1,200 CAD in travel costs, as well as saving Team Rubicon time in coordination, making this a meaningful contribution towards long-term recovery by Airlink, Air Canada and its foundation.”
“During an extraordinary time like no other that saw heartbreaking wildfire devastation in the middle of a global pandemic, the importance of continuing to help communities in need remains one of the Air Canada Foundation’s priorities. Our support of Airlink and Team Rubicon Canada’s important work by transporting specialized volunteers across Canada to assist affected Canadians and local governments will help communities recover and rebuild,” said Valérie Durand, spokesperson for the Air Canada Foundation.
The first wave of 9 Team Rubicon volunteers travelled from various locations across Canada beginning September 10th, 2021 and new waves will follow weekly.
The Lytton Creek wildfire began on June 30, 2021, just south of the village of Lytton in British Columbia, Canada. The fire moved upward at a speed of up to 20 kilometers per hour, exploding several propane tanks upon moving into Lytton. Residents were evacuated within minutes without time to collect belongings. The village’s 250 residents, as well as 1,500-2,000 First Nations residents in the area, were heavily impacted by the wildfire’s damage.
Air Canada has been a partner of Airlink for several years. This latest mission is the largest donation of flights to an Airlink NGO partner from Air Canada and the Air Canada Foundation for a single program to date.
About Airlink: Airlink (www.airlinkflight.org) is a nonprofit organization providing free and heavily subsidized flights and air transport for pre-screened nonprofits to deliver disaster responders and supplies in the wake of humanitarian crises worldwide. Its network includes more than 130 aid organizations and 47 commercial and charter airlines. Its first mission was in response to the Haiti earthquake. Since its inception in 2010, Airlink’s airline partners have flown nearly 8,000 relief workers and transported more than 4,000,000 pounds of humanitarian cargo, saving nonprofits over $14 million in air transport costs. In 2020 the humanitarian aid Airlink moved assisted 5.5 million people in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. For more information, please visit www.airlinkflight.org.
About the Air Canada Foundation: The Air Canada Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on the health and well-being of children and youth, was launched in 2012. It offers both financial and in-kind support to Canadian registered charities. Core programs include the Hospital Transportation Program, which redistributes Aeroplan points to 15 pediatric hospitals across Canada, enabling sick children to access the medical care they need away from home. The Air Canada Foundation, in collaboration with the airline, also engages directly in fundraising activities, such as the Every Bit Counts program, which encourages Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge customers to donate loose change of all denominations on board flights or through collection containers available in Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges. The Foundation also offers continued support to major health-related causes that benefit Canadians and is an active participant in international humanitarian relief activity as the need arises. For more information about the Air Canada Foundation, please visit www.aircanada.com/foundation or in Air Canada’s 2020 Corporate Sustainability report available at www.aircanada.com/citizens of the world.
About Team Rubicon: Team Rubicon Canada serves communities by mobilizing veterans to continue their service by leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises. Team Rubicon was founded in 2010 following the Haiti earthquake, and subsequently established in Canada in 2016. Since then both organizations have grown membership across North America, now boasting over 140,000 volunteers collectively, deploying at home and abroad. Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, Team Rubicon has not only pivoted to be able to continue to deliver disaster response and rebuild services in core mission areas but has also expanded their scope of missions to meet community needs brought about by COVID. Visit www.team-rubicon.ca for more information.