Hope in the Time of Crisis

Igloolik children receive new clothes
by SalvationArmy.ca


During the height of the pandemic, restaurants around the country had to close because they couldn’t operate safely. For the truck drivers who carry goods across Canada, this posed a huge problem—they rely on restaurants and rest stops to feed themselves while they’re out on the road.

This was even more worrisome in Newfoundland and Labrador. The island portion of the province relies completely on truckers to deliver everything they need. With businesses closed, how could the truckers keep bringing in critical supplies?

The Salvation Army and the townsfolk of Channel-Port aux Basques stepped in to keep the local truckers fed. Together, they made nutritious, home-cooked meals and delivered them by the side of the highway. Volunteers prepared meatloaf, turkey dinners, baked chicken, spaghetti and many more delicious hot meals for the truckers to enjoy.

They did this all through the winter months to ensure those whose work keeps the island of Newfoundland fed, clothed and heated could know how appreciated they are in the community.

One of the volunteers, Jessie, was happy to be able to help. “We were all very proud, all of us, to be part of this project because it showed the true spirit of the Newfoundland people. We help whenever and wherever we can. It was a wonderful thing that brought the community together.”

Quote: “We’re an island, so everything comes in by truck. And that’s the bottom line. Groceries, food, lumber … the whole island is dependent on trucking.” Ed, Truck Driver

Quote: “Every time they were so happy to see us, and they were so appreciative of what we were doing for them.” Jessie, Salvation Army Volunteer


On December 14, 2020, Jake Tran, president and CEO at Toronto Grace Health Centre, got an urgent call from the Ministry of Health. They were in desperate need of space for long-term care beds. COVID-19 was making its way through residences across the province, and more space was needed quickly to ensure everyone’s safety. Could The Salvation Army help?

Imagine building a hospital from scratch. First, Jake found space at the Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke. A team of 50 people started working non-stop to get the space ready, installing walls, pipes, sinks, beds. Then they had to find nurses, social workers, therapists and more. They needed to ensure they had the resources to take care of a vulnerable population, not just physically, but socially, mentally and spiritually as well.

On December 27, the Specialized Care Centre officially opened. It had gone from an empty warehouse space to a 90-bed facility with private rooms in two weeks.

It quickly became clear that something special had been created. The clients were enamoured with the caring staff who went out of their way to make everyone feel at home. Kathleen, a resident at the Special Care Centre, says, “When I came here, I just loved the staff, and they were so kind to me. They made you feel comfortable, and they made you feel liked.”

Being able to step in and fill a need in the community is why The Salvation Army is able to do what it does. The impact of the Specialized Care Centre has been overwhelmingly positive and has generated so many special moments for everyone involved.

Quote: “When Jake called, my first thought was: how are we going to build a hospital in two weeks?” Patricia, Chief Nurse, Toronto Grace Health Centre

Quote: “You come here and everybody is on your side. I felt like I was in a safe place.” Kathleen, Specialized Care Centre Resident


For a community already struggling with poverty, food insecurity and intergenerational trauma, the families of Igloolik, Nunavut, were hard hit by COVID-19. It left them even more isolated than they were before.

During the pandemic, Colleen Chau began teaching at an elementary school in Igloolik, where she noticed students coming to school underdressed for the brutal winter weather. Some of the children were even showing signs of frostbite. Concerned, she reached out to The Salvation Army, which set a plan in motion to meet the community’s need for winter clothing.

Knowing the generosity of the Weston family and their continued commitment to The Salvation Army, including a $2.5-million donation at the beginning of the pandemic, the Army reached out to Joe Fresh of Loblaw Companies Limited and Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation (Baffinland), as it was evident that assistance with the project was required. The logistics and costs associated with transporting eight pallets of winter gear and other supplies seemed impossible until Baffinland offered their support and expertise to ship the items to the remote community, which is located on BaffinIsland and where many Baffinland workers call home.

To The Salvation Army’s delight, they agreed, and an event for all three schools in Igloolik was planned. Several pallets of warm winter clothing were airlifted in and volunteers set up a massive market, filling it with warm clothes, music and snacks.

Families were able to choose from racks of sweaters and pants, towering piles of coats and rows of boots. The market was full of smiling faces and the excited chatter of children showing off new outfits to their friends. “I think it was a really exciting time for them,” says Colleen, “to go shopping and be able to have these options, be able to pick something … as a kid.”

The Salvation Army is constantly in search of ways to reach farther and wider. Being able to help these remote families was a big moment for the organization.

Quote: “I noticed that a number of my students weren’t wearing the proper gear in December and January. I had students who were coming to school with marks on their faces and their hands due to frostbite.” Colleen, Igloolik Teacher

 Quote: “They’re excited to be outside playing, and they have jackets that are warm and boots that fit them. The kids really are very delighted by the clothing that they received.” Colleen, Igloolik Teacher