Airlink Provides Travel to Team Rubicon Canada Volunteers Tackling British Columbia Wildfire Cleanup with the help of the Air Canada Foundation

Airlink has partnered with Air Canada and the Air Canada Foundation to provide travel to Team Rubicon Canada volunteers. The flights will benefit potentially 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 17 Team Rubicon volunteers traveled from various locations across Canada 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.