Alberta wildfires, one year later: Wireless was there

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OTTAWA – May 1, 2017 – A year ago this week, a wildfire began near Fort McMurray. Over the next few days, it spread across the area and forced the largest wildfire evacuation in the history of Alberta.

A terrifying situation to be faced with, but one that also highlighted the critical importance of wireless telecommunications for Canadians.

Even before a state of emergency was declared, wireless was there to help first responders assess the situation and relay information.

Wireless was there to support emergency alerting systems.

Wireless was there to help evacuees stay in touch with each other and with their loved ones around the world. Mobile apps, text messaging, voice, social media, news, safety instructions – their smartphones were often the only things they could turn to.

A major player in supporting the community through the ordeal, of course, was the Canadian Red Cross. To date, the Canadian Red Cross has collected $189 million dollars to support individuals, families, community groups and small businesses, which translates to $323 million for relief and recovery efforts once matching funds are factored in.

Wireless has been there for the Canadian Red Cross as well.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association operates a charity arm, the Mobile Giving Foundation Canada. The Mobile Giving Foundation Canada is a registered charity whose purpose is to enable wireless technology to benefit other registered charities in Canada through text message donations.

On the morning of May 1, 2016, an outburst of donations had come through overnight via text message for the Canadian Red Cross. The few days that followed were a blur of activity. In short, hundreds of thousands of Canadians responded by donating via text message to support emergency relief efforts. This was the highest response to any mobile giving call-to-action in our program’s eight years of existence.

These were Canadians who may not have had a lot to give but who gave what they could because they felt the urgency to do so. Many of these Canadians were also new to charitable giving: 90% of them were at the very least new to the Canadian Red Cross.

Wireless telecommunications empowers more Canadians to do more—and it also has the power to unlock the potential of human compassion.

To support the Canadian Red Cross in its ongoing relief efforts by donating $10, text the keyword ABFIRES to 45678. Your donation will appear on your next monthly cell phone bill, and you will receive instructions to obtain a receipt for tax purposes.