2021 B.C. Floods: Home on the road - a year of supporting Canadians

By Shelly Makrugin, senior communications advisor

The longest stretch that Fran Carter has spent at home in Falher, Alberta this year is ten days. That’s because she has been going from disaster response to disaster response with the Canadian Red Cross – and wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My first interaction with the Red Cross was during the wildfires in Fort McMurray in 2016,” Fran recalls. “I was leading a security team with another organization, but I became obsessed with the Red Cross seeing it in action. I knew then I wanted to do that for the rest of my life.”
 
A woman in a Red Cross vest sitting at a desk, smiling
Fran Carter from Fahler, Alberta working with the logistics team in Kamloops, British Columbia, assisting flood evacuees. 

Fran got the call to help with the British Columbia floods response while supporting a vaccination clinic with the Red Cross in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. She went straight from the northern B.C. community to Kamloops to work logistics for the reception centre for people evacuated from their homes.

“I work my home-based business around deploying with the Red Cross,” she explains. “I want to help people and be the best resource possible for those who need assistance.”

Born and raised on Onion Lake First Nation, Fran first worked as a special education coordinator with Indian and Northern Affairs (now known as Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada), before moving on to study criminology. She spent the next 12 years working as a correctional and parole officer, and primary worker with male and female inmates.

“Working with incarcerated women allowed me to look at myself and become a better communicator. I thank them for that,” Fran says.

Once she began with the Red Cross in 2020, Fran learned everything about the organization and the programs it offers.

“I was widowed 31 years ago, and I didn’t know there were community supports and organizations that could have helped me and my four kids. I made it my mission to know everything I could so I could help connect people to the support they need.”

Fran deployed with the Red Cross to Winnipeg in November 2020 to help support at long-term care facilities for the COVID-19 response.

“We would help patients to the windows so they could see their loved ones outside the building. It was heartbreaking, but we did anything we could to help keep those connections strong.”

Fran also helped with COVID-19 vaccination support in southern B.C. and spent time in Sudbury, Ontario this summer. She worked as the Indigenous peoples lead when more than 1,000 members of the Pikangikum First Nation in northwest Ontario were evacuated due to forest fires. They conducted wellness checks and advocated on behalf of those evacuated from their homes. Fran explains they tried to “make life as comfortable as possible” for them and helped provide referrals and links to community supports.

Not stopping there, Fran made her way to Vernon, B.C. to support the wildfire response.

“It was the first time I ever saw men cry uncontrollably,” she shares. “But I was able to keep in the moment and do the work. I love helping people, no matter how uncomfortable it may be emotionally.”
Fran isn’t sure where she will go next, but she knows she will continue her work with the Canadian Red Cross to help those who need it.

Canadians wishing to help are encouraged to make a financial donation to the British Columbia Floods and Extreme Weather Appeal either online at redcross.ca, by calling 1-800-418-1111, or by texting BCFLOODS to 30333.

Between November 17 and December 26, 2021, the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia will each match every dollar donated to the Canadian Red Cross 2021 British Columbia Floods & Extreme Weather Appeal. This means every $1 donated will become $3!

 
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