Work at CSI for the day with our new Lounge Pass!

Getting community support when your homeland is on fire

In September of 2019, wildfires started in New South Wales, Australia and burned for the next five months. Though these fires have finally been contained, the damage done was massive and far reaching. To make matters worse, the same rain that put out the fires is now causing flooding. When paired with the drought and fires that preceded it, these floods will have cascading impacts on fish, platypus and invertebrates, threatening some with extinction.


CSI Spadina Community Animator Marcus Huynh is from Australia, and wanted to do something to help with disaster relief efforts happening back home. So he organized a special “Sausage Sizzle” CSI Breakfast club to raise awareness and funds about what was happening in Australia. He wrote this blog post about that experience, and about what we can all do to help Australia.

With the devastation happening in Australia, it’s been heartbreaking hearing and seeing the impact of what is happening. Being so far away doesn’t make it easier, and knowing that your friends, family, and country are burning up can be emotionally difficult. I think it’s been great to be as supportive and engaged as possible and keeping in mind hat that every conversation, thought, and action counts toward recovery in a time like this. It’s been incredible seeing all the local action supporting the situation. It’s very inspiring to see the rallying of our local community here on the other side of the world that can make a difference.

I am truly grateful and thankful for the CSI community and how supportive everyone has been, even from Toronto. It really shows us as a global community coming together and united. Not only with Australia, but with so many other global disasters around the world.

The Breakie Club was amazing and incredibly moving to see so many people come by to support and donate so generously. We fundraised $900 that went directly to the Bushfire relief efforts for victims of the disaster.

All of the food and expenses came out of our own pockets and generous donations from the local community like Yamchops and Arc’teryx. They were so kind to help us out when they heard about about these local efforts.

From seeing all the amazing people that stepped in to support in any way they could at CSI, I shared quite an emotional moment with the Community and how important this rallying was and how meaningful the efforts, to all the people and animals back home in Australia. The theme was Australia and we had the Traditional “Sausage Sizzle” to bring everyone together including home made sausage rolls, lamingtons, vegemite, Tim Tams & fairy bread!

If CSI members and non-members (especially those who might not be in Toronto!) want to support the fundraising efforts, it’s important to remember that every part helps. From donations, to support, to engagement to steer the conversation forward and create awareness and progression.

To ensure that the money goes where it needs, and avoiding the few out there that are bogus. Here are are few reliable donation points.

There is also a Variety Night Fundraiser happening at TRANZAC on February 15! If you see any other fundraising and support events, I encourage you to attend and join in the conversation.

To help inspire you to take action, here is a list of some of my favourite songs (and one movie!) from Australia. There’s an incredibly rich and authentic history behind what people usually see in the media. These stories and insights bring together the diversity and solidarity of the many communities that make up Australia.

Waltzing Matilda
Is a song that has been around for 100’s of years and the tradition of Australia back in the day.

Our Mates – Australia Tourism
A fun song led by Kylie Minogue promoting Tourism Australia.

Movie: Rabbit Proof Fence
A heartfelt and raw movie that shares about the realities stolen generation of our Indigenous Australians.

For an illuminating multimedia breakdown of the impact of Climate Change on Australia, read the Guardian’s Inside Australia’s climate emergency: the new fire zone.

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CSI Spadina in the ground floor kitchen, looking out towards the lounge and meeting rooms. In the foreground is a kitchen counter, with waffles, toppings, and glasses of coffees and teas. In the background, CSI CEO Tonya Surman is speaking into a microphone on the left. In the middle and on the right, a variety of people stand and sit, listening to her speak.
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