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Buddhist Foundation helps those evacuated and stranded in Kelowna

Students were bused to Vancouver
(Mamas for Mamas/Submitted)

When the growing Grouse Complex wildfire threatened Kelowna’s UBC Okanagan, the campus was evacuated but many students had nowhere to go and no way to travel.

Initially, buses transported evacuated students from their on-campus dorms to Prospera Place in Kelowna. Some students stayed in the evacuation centre, with hundreds of other people who had nowhere to go. Other students were able to bunk with friends who lived off-campus and had not been evacuated.


Storytime: UBCO students were evacuated from campus on Friday Aug. 18, when the Kelowna wildfire spread. The campus has since been downgraded to evacuation alert but exams and classes have been postponed. Without a car, the airport shut down and busses cancelled, many students were stuck until the Buddhist Tzu Chi foundation provided a shuttle bus to bring people to vancouver. More at

♬ original sound - Kelowna Capital News

Leaving Kelowna became increasingly difficult for people without a vehicle, stranding travellers and students.

The Kelowna International Airport grounded all flights because of the heavy smoke and to free up airspace for BC Wildfire Service helicopters and planes to douse the flames.

Additionally, bus routes were cancelled for travellers east and west of Kelowna.

After hearing of the stranded students and travellers the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation out of Vancouver stepped up. The organization strives to remove barriers to education and aims to help those in need, no matter the circumstance.

The Tzi Chi Foundation loaded up a shuttle bus with blankets, pillows and essentials for those who had been displaced by the wildfires in the Central Okanagan and left for Kelowna to help those who had been stranded without family nearby.

@kelownacapnews The Tzu Chi Foundation sent a shuttle full of donations to Kelowna to help people stuck in the city without a car get to Vancouver #goodvibes #wildfire ♬ You’re Gonna Go Far - Noah Kahan

The donations were delivered to Mamas for Mamas, a charity in Kelowna that has stepped up amidst the crisis to aid those who have been impacted by the fires.

Capital News spoke with some international students who would be flying home after reaching Vancouver while they waited for the shuttle.

One student from Egypt said that her parents had been incredibly stressed by the news of the fires and felt helpless, unable to help their daughter leave the city. Thanks to the Tzi Chi Foundation, she will be able to stay with friends and family before flying home to Egypt.

Another student, from Columbia will be flying home for a few weeks after arriving in Vancouver. He said that he was living in a state of limbo after being evacuated with classes cancelled but nowhere to go, before the Foundation organized a shuttle.

Despite the chaos of the wildfires, people have come together in many ways to help each other in their time of need.


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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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