Aussies in Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon area resorts raising funds to send home - InfoNews

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Aussies in Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon area resorts raising funds to send home

Aussies at Silver Star are banding together.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Chris Corbett
January 07, 2020 - 7:30 PM

Aussies who have made the annual trek to the Southern Interior to work at area ski resorts are having a surreal experience — being far from home surrounded by snow while fires devastate many regions of Australia.

“It’s certainly mixed emotions I’m feeling,” Rhianon Hutcheson, a SilverStar dispatcher and ski patroller said. “You feel a bit of guilt from being away, living up here and having what’s supposed to be the trip of a lifetime while you read the tragic and anguishing stories … and there’s the pride for the beautiful Aussie spirit and the stories of people coming together.”

The push and pull of emotions, she said, is particularly amplified at area resorts because there is such a concentration of Aussies calling the area home for the season.

In the staff newsletter at SilverStar Mountain Resort sent out Monday, Hutcheson read more than 180 Australian staff members were working the hill and that doesn't include guests. Big White, which is closer to Kelowna, employs roughly 800 Aussies each season and also a large number in Sun Peaks near Kamloops.

There’s never far to go without the subject being raised.

“In the last week there hasn’t been a day about how my family is or how I am in regard to the fire,” she said. “For me, since we sent an email out on Friday asking if we could have a barbecue, we’ve had so many offers of help and encouragement. So we’re getting all of the loveliness (of a community banding together) without the hardship facing people at home.”

Her people, in particular, are further from the fires that are raging, in Western Australia.

From afar, she’s concerned about the environmental destruction and the estimated one billion animals that have been destroyed.

She’s not afraid that she won’t recognize the home she returns to, though.

“In terms of the Aussie spirit, I will be going back to the same country. There are a lot of lovely things that have come out and a lot of blame for fires being placed in all different directions,” she said. “I am optimistic people will be more conscious of the environment we are so lucky to have and they will work to preserve it.”

At SilverStar's Town Hall, a barbecue and raffle is scheduled for Wednesday Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. Two pairs of Blundstone boots, prints from a local professional photographer and SilverStar merchandise are among the prizes up for grabs.

Those who can’t make it and still want to help are asked to donate to the following charities, as they were vetted by the group for their efficacy

All proceeds will be going to Bushfire Relief and Recovery in Australia and distributed to Community Enterprise Foundation: National Bushfire Disaster Appeal as they are able to move funds to affected areas nationwide and NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc. due to the devastation to many native Australian animals.

If anyone has more prizes for the raffle contact rhianon.hutcheson@hotmail.com.

A pub at Kelowna’s Big White Ski resort will be holding a fundraiser next week to help the communities and animals being impacted by the wildfires in Australia.

The Blarney Stone Irish Tavern will host a fundraiser on Wednesday, Jan. 15, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The money raised from the fundraiser will go towards a number of charities aimed at helping the communities and animals affected by the fires.

The entry fee is a minimum $5 donation per person. There will be a selection of Australian food and beers available.

A dollar from every Australian beer purchased will also be donated to charities.

Locals in Sun Peaks will also be planning a sausage sizzle fundraiser on Sunday, Jan. 26 to help the firefighters and wildlife in Australia, according to Whitecroft resident Alex Smith.

"Sausage sizzles are popular in Australia and they are typically fundraisers so I figured doing an Australian theme here would be fitting since half of our population here is Australian," Smith says. 

The event on Jan. 26 will run for four hours midday at the Mantle's Restaurant and Lounge patio in Sun Peaks. 

Smith says time details are still be worked out but a Facebook page will be created for anyone looking to donate. For now, anyone with questions or looking for more information can contact Smith at 778-538-0325.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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