Thompson Rivers University

New fund supports students impacted by climate disasters

  Posted on: September 8, 2021

KAMLOOPS—Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is working with alumni and donors to fund one year of post-secondary and related expenses for current and future students impacted by climate-related disasters. The Disaster Relief Fund provides safe housing and tuition support for displaced students.

This summer, the B.C. Interior experienced extreme heat and devastating wildfires that impacted thousands across the region. Residents of Lytton, Monte Lake and other locations throughout the Thompson Nicola and North Okanagan lost their homes and communities.

TRU Distinguished Alumnus Kevin Loring and his organization Savage Society initiated a fundraising campaign following the devastation in Lytton on June 30. Learning of several students from the rural town who planned to attend university, Loring and Honorary Doctorate recipient Lori Marchand contacted TRU to support them in assisting graduates of Kumsheen ShchEma-meet School.

“The devastating and unprecedented wildfires have left many families homeless,” said Loring, who was born and raised in Lytton. “These students need help to get them started in a good way, to help them get that education they need to go out into the world and make it a better place for all of us.”

Since then, TRU has worked to identify students who have been displaced in order to provide them with safe housing and financial help to pursue post-secondary education. Lytton resident and evacuee Alexis Aleck-Brown is a first-year TRU student and the first to receive support through the Disaster Relief Fund. With community support, she was able to begin her heavy mechanical trades training in July and live safely on campus.

TRU recognizes a long-term need for the Disaster Relief Fund. Every year students face more challenges in their communities due to climate-related disasters.

“Kevin and Lori stepped forward to help the residents of Lytton this summer and TRU is working to make funds available for any future students who are similarly impacted,” said Associate Vice-President Advancement Kim Cassar Torreggiani. “These students have experienced a traumatic event. We want them to have a safe place to live and fewer university costs, so they can still pursue education and have one less thing to worry about.”

There are two wildfire researchers based at TRU. Mike Flannigan is the new British Columbia Research Chair in Predictive Services, Emergency Management and Fire Science. Incoming TRU faculty member Jill Harvey has been granted a Canadian Research Chair in Fire Ecology to investigate how wildfires and drought impact forests in the B.C. Interior.

“The severity and intensity of these recent fire seasons in B.C. are a result of human-caused climate change,” Flannigan said. “As we continue to warm due to human-caused climate change, we will see more wildfire.”

Anyone can contribute to the Disaster Relief Fund at or via mail to:

TRU Foundation
Disaster Relief Fund
805 TRU Way,
Kamloops, BC V2C 0C8

For assistance with donating to the Disaster Relief Fund, please call 778-471-8469.



Kim Cassar Torreggiani
Associate Vice-President Advancement
Thompson Rivers University | 250-320-3758

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