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Ada-Slivinski
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Ada Slivinski: Chilliwack community steps up, and shopping local is more important than ever

For a few days this week, flooding in Abbotsford and highway closures cut off all access to the City of Chilliwack by road, essentially rendering the community an island.

While “shop local” has been a buzzword and a good philosophy during more normal times, this week Chilliwack residents had no other option. Amazon orders couldn’t get through, big box grocery store shelves quickly emptied, and many gas stations were taped off, out of fuel entirely.

The places that managed to keep supplies flowing were those who get their products very close to home. The Local Harvest staff were picking produce from their fields and selling it right away. Pick Eco Refills was providing local pantry staples from big bulk bins. Last but definitely not least, farm stands like Brightside Eggs are still able to provide food because their unbroken supply chain was stemming from their backyard. Quite literally.

Hoarding and fighting over essentials was a non-issue, because neighbours were buying from neighbours and residents stepped up to help each other.

Margaret Reid, one of the organizers of the Chilliwack Farmers’ Market, has been offering to transfer funds to those unable to stock up because they were waiting for a paycheque. She also raised $5,000 in less than 24 hours to buy food for the Indigenous communities in Chilliwack. Little River Eggs donated a week’s supply of eggs to displaced families.

Yarrow residents spent hours sandbagging around the Barrowtown Pump Station to prevent more catastrophic flooding. Locals helped those who were forced to evacuate find housing and lined up to drop off donations of diapers, clothing and baby formula.

It’s often said that it’s times of crisis that bring communities together. The devastation is horrific, but the way the Chilliwack community has risen up to help when it’s needed is so heartening to see.

If one disaster in Covid has made us shrink into ourselves and our homes, battling against an invisible enemy – to fear our neighbour and the deadly virus they may be carrying – another disaster in the Fraser Valley floods have brought a community together.

We can find so much of what we need so close to home. “Shop local” is no longer just a slogan but a way of life that bolsters the local economy, improves food security and helps us all feel a little more human again.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at ada@jampr.co

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