As Australia is still battling the worst wildfires the country has ever seen, a Terrace resident has stepped up to help.
This past month, Christina Farkwam has partnered with local businesses and schools to raise money for wildlife relief and has also been knitting pouches to send overseas.
“I saw on the news that over half a billion animals have been killed and there are many hurt in the rescue centers and sanctuaries, who were asking for donations of pouches,” says Farkvam. “I’ve been crocheting and knitting since I was 15 and asked my dad who runs Kermodei Veterinary Hospital if they wanted to raise money and they were totally on board. It just kind of started from there.”
Farkvam says her dad, who is also a vet, then put out the word to other clinics in the area and many people started to contribute to the fund immediately beyond their knowing.
“[At Uplands Elementary School], a Grade 5 class had a big bake sale for that one day and it was one of the most successful bake sales the school has ever had. The kids then came to the clinic to present the cheque which was really sweet and really cool that they put this all together so fast to help out,” she says, noting they donated $627 and that another student there named Oscar Leggat raised another $400 for the fundraiser.
So far, the total amount of money raised is $4,100 and about 20 pouches have been crafted for displaced animals to be used as handmade joey pouches, bird and rodent nests, bat wraps and even just as blankets to comfort those in need.
This pouch movement is credited to The Animal Rescue Craft Guild based in Australia, who put out a call to crafters around the world asking for tightly woven handmade items to help suffering animals feel safe and secure after their habitat has burned, especially the young who have been separated from their families. Since then, thousands of Canadians have been knitting away and donating their crafts to rescue organizations across the country.
“Now they say that close to a billion animals have been taken out and the koalas are now on the endangered species list… it’s just really devastating, they don’t know how they’re going to recover and they think that some species of animals have been completely wiped out as they haven’t been able to look because they’re so busy taking care of the ones they’ve rescued,” she explains.
“People need to realize that climate change is a very real thing and this is a huge red flag. This is just one thing they’ve been dealing with out there, they’ve had years of drought and their species have been dying from that too.”
Although she has never been to Australia, she says it’s a place she’s longed to see because of its unique landscape and animals. She adds that it brings her great sadness as she with her kids would have loved to see the country before its devastating destruction.
Along with her family’s vet clinic who also donated wool and medical supplies, the Terrace Veterinary Hospital raised $500, and the Skeena Animal Hospital with Pharmasave donated supplies as well. Skeena Middle School students also jumped in and donated $500.
Farkvam says she’s astonished by how much people in Terrace were willing to help as she thought only a few people would contribute. For her, it reminds us all how strong a community can be once banded together for a cause.
“This is something that we can be touched by too… where we are, we don’t always see the impacts the same way but I think we all need to unite and remember that Australia has come to our aid before when we had wildfires in B.C. and Alberta,” says Farkvam. “I just feel like it’s important to do what we can to help the environment, other people and our fellow animals — we have to protect this planet.”
If anyone wants to contribute to the cause, Farkvam says that there is a donation jar at the Kermodei Veterinary Hospital but also encourages people to reach out to other Australian rescue organizations to donate directly.