Dave Obee: An Easter like no other

Help your neighbours: Donate at RapidReliefFund.ca. More options below.

Yes, we have collected more than $4 million in the Rapid Relief Fund drive to help those who have been seriously hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. It took less than three weeks, a sign of the generosity found in Greater Victoria and the surrounding area.

We can’t stop now, though, because the crisis hasn’t stopped.

That should be readily apparent to the millions of Canadians of faith for whom this is one of the most significant times of the year, yet who are unable to celebrate in their usual way because of the outbreak.

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Christians know this as Easter Sunday, the most important day in the calendar. It marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the foundation of the Christian faith, and is usually a day when church pews are filled. Not this year.

We are midway through Passover, marked by Jews to remember the exodus from Egypt, when 10 divinely sent plagues aided in the escape. The usual celebrations aren’t possible this year, though, due to a plague that first appeared only four months ago.

This week also gives Vaisakhi, which is celebrated in both Sikhism and Hindusim. One of the most colourful annual events in British Columbia is Surrey’s Vaisakhi Parade, which was cancelled this year because of the pandemic.

Also this month, Muslims celebrate Ramadan, which traditionally includes gathering at mosques for prayers. But not this year.

These disruptions are unlikely to shake anyone’s beliefs. Rather, it can be argued that those who do have faith — not everyone has it, or wants it — are more likely to have the strength and resolve we will all need to get through this crisis and return to some form of normality as soon as we can. Faith can give people the foundation they need to care for one another, to place the common good ahead of themselves, to believe that things will get better.

At this time, faith matters more than ever, even as it’s being tested. So many lives have been turned upside down by the coronavirus, so many people are in serious, immediate need, that those who still have the strength — or ability, or compassion — to help are sorely needed.

We are trying to move the money out as quickly as it comes in. It is going to local charities dealing directly with those in need. About 30 groups have been given money so far, and more recipients will be announced in a few days.

Some of the immediate needs are obvious; just look at the tents along Pandora Avenue or in Topaz Park. Many of those people need food or emergency shelters.

For others, the situation is maybe less visible, but equally precarious. These people are receiving funds to help pay for rent or food this month to replace what they would have paid for from their part-time job that recently disappeared.

Or getting childcare that wasn’t needed until the care usually provided by a grandparent stopped with the recent health directives for seniors to isolate. Those in our community living paycheque to paycheque don’t have the luxury of dipping into savings for these crucial needs.

They need help now.

One thing all of these people need: Hope.

You can help give them some with a donation to the Rapid Relief Fund. You can make a huge difference in the lives of your neighbours and your friends, including some who might be putting on a brave face while dealing with the loss of employment or the rising levels of stress.

The fund was established by the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation and the Times Colonist, and we are all committed to continuing this work as long as there is a need.

More information is on the Rapid Relief Fund website, including a page with information on recipients and how they are using the money. Organizations looking for money are encouraged to provide information about their needs and the services they offer.

Information submitted there will help the Victoria Foundation and its community advisers decide where to allocate donations.

Thanks for your continuing support. How soon can we reach $5 million? Let’s hope it’s soon.



Tax receipts will be issued. If you are open to receiving your tax receipt by PDF, please include an email address with your donation.

• Online: RapidReliefFund.ca

• Phone: 250-381-5532

• Mail: Send cheques (made out to the Victoria Foundation) to RapidRelief Fund, Victoria Foundation, 200-703 Broughton St., Victoria V8W 1E2

The Rapid Relief Fund was created by the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation, and the Times Colonist to help people in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CHEK Television, Coast Outdoor Advertising and Black Press are helping to boost awareness. Every dollar received from donations goes out as grants to the community.

Donations are being distributed through the Victoria Foundation.


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