UBC Okanagan Global Message

This email is being sent to all faculty and staff at UBC's Okanagan campus on behalf of the Office of the President and the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

Devastating wildfires in the Okanagan area

Dear colleagues, ‘way:

We are deeply distressed by the devastating wildfires in the Okanagan area and throughout the province. Many within our UBC community and beyond are feeling the toll of increased stress and uncertainty due to these fires, coupled with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. Our thoughts and those of our students, faculty and staff, are with all those affected, some of whom study and work on the Okanagan campus.
 
The Okanagan campus is operating with regular summer hours and we continue to prepare for students to arrive. The campus is not in the immediate vicinity of any current wildfire activity orders or alerts. Evacuation orders and evacuation alerts have been issued in areas around West Kelowna. You can see an interactive map of evacuation updates here: www.cordemergency.ca/map

UBC Okanagan is part of the provincial emergency response plan and has worked closely with authorities to provide accommodation to firefighting personnel and evacuees over the past few months. At this time, we are actively working with the regional Emergency Operations Centre to provide support where possible.

We are particularly concerned with the welfare of students who have already begun to arrive in the region or expect to in the coming weeks. Please know that we are working diligently to offer help where possible.

UBCO has put in place additional financial support this year for students experiencing financial distress because of wildfires, COVID-19 or other factors. These funds, totalling $525,000, are available to provide one-time support for students unable to cover cost-of-living expenses related to on- or off-campus housing or food purchases, or for those facing unexpected and urgent costs. Applications for this fund are open until September 30. To find out more, please refer to the one-time financial support webpage. Students facing urgent financial need can also email Student Records & Financial Services at srfs@ubc.ca to inquire about short-term emergency funding.

We encourage any managers that have team members affected by the wildfires or evacuation orders to contact their human resource advisor. They are there to help support our faculty and staff.

We also appreciate that the impact of these disasters is not only physical or financial. The stress of wildfires, smoke and COVID-19 are set against the backdrop of returning to campus for the first time in 18 months. This is an extraordinary period, and we shouldn’t underestimate the anxiety felt by many in our community.

We know that we will come together as a campus; we will treat one another with kindness, patience and compassion; that we will reach out to those that may be struggling and offer support. We also hope that we can all take time to care for ourselves and our families and to consider our own physical and mental health as we navigate this uncertainty. Please explore the many services and supports available for students, faculty and staff:

We are inspired by the resilience, humanity and drive displayed by our Okanagan campus and the region. We’d like to thank the workers both on and off our campus supporting those dealing with considerable disruption and grief. Our deep gratitude also goes to the people battling these many fires on the front lines — from firefighting crews to health-care workers to social services providers. UBC Okanagan stands with you.

Kʷu k̓wəčk̓wačt (we are strong).

Sincerely,

Lesley Cormack
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal
UBC Okanagan

Santa Ono
UBC President and Vice-Chancellor