Canadian Turkish communities step up to help earthquake victims

A huge earthquake on Monday killed thousands in Turkey and left many displaced. Henna Saeed talks to the Canadian Turkish community, which wants to help find the survivors and donate to those who have lost everything.

By Henna Saeed

After a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit parts of Turkey and Syria Monday, many communities in Canada are preparing to help those affected by the natural disaster.

Calgarian Meryem Christine, who spoke with CityNews from the Turkish province of Antalya, says her cats could sense the tragedy before it even happened.

“Our cats were acting weird as if they had an episode of anxiety and they were causing a lot of ruckus. Thirty minutes later, the house started to shake, the light fixture was swinging. That’s when I looked at my phone and saw the earthquake alerts,” Christine said.

While the area she’s in was not as hard hit as others, she says the massive earthquake has left many family and friends stuck in parts of Turkey.

“The situation is very bad. They are cold and there’s a lot of people who are stuck outside right now who are buried underneath all the rubble. It’s very hard,” said Christine.

The Turkish consul general in Vancouver, Taylan Tokmak, says rescue efforts are underway.

“Turkey has been hit by, I think now, three major earthquakes and very strong aftershocks. And now, during the aftershocks, some more buildings are collapsing. Since it’s very widespread, we are having a big difficulty in Turkey to reach everybody, especially those stuck under the rubble,” Tokmak said.

“Right now, my (Turkish) government is asking for foreign help from all countries who have medium or heavy urban search and rescue teams available. Whatever help we can get, we are ready to send them to Turkey.”


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Tokmak says he’s already received calls from across Canada offering help.

“Muslim community in British Columbia, in Calgary, Edmonton and also in Ontario and Quebec, we are hearing from all of them. Right now, what we need is anything related to cold weather survival,” he explained.

“All the provinces are offering these, so we will be coordinating all the shipments, the cargo and then we will be sending them to Turkey as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, Aynur Adjrad, who volunteers at the Canadian Turkish Center in Calgary, says the community is in pain and is appealing for donations from anyone who can contribute.

“This is a big tragedy and a very painful moment for us, the Turkish people. We want to do the right thing at the right time and not rush to relief efforts unplanned. So we are waiting for a go ahead from the Vancouver consulate,” Adjrad said.

“Donations are very crucial and all the details have been provided on the AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency) that is a Turkish Government Agency. The link for their Earthquake Humanitarian Aid Campaign is: If someone wants to help us, please feel free to visit those websites.”

The Muslim Council of Calgary (MCC) says it is also planning fundraisers to support earthquake victims.

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