Firefighters in Quebec Donate Firefighting Gear to Ukraine

Note: This post is a message from Richard Kelly, a friend of GreaterGood whose fire department in Quebec is also supporting Ukraine. The message was originally in French, so some translation errors may exist.

For the one whose generosity and humility light the way, talking about oneself and claiming one’s own successes becomes a challenge. That’s why I decided to resume my role as a storyteller in the Québec team for Ukraine and dedicate these words to my fellow adventurers.

Photo: Facebook/Richard Kelly

Solidarity without borders: the tireless commitment of Team Québec in Ukraine.

In the wake of the devastation caused by an unfair war in Ukraine, a team of Quebec volunteers has taken the bold initiative to reach out to those in desperate need. Armed with determination and compassion, members of Équipe Québec have embarked on several humanitarian trips to Ukraine, offering help and hope in moments of distress.

Their work on the ground has not only been a series of one-time acts of charity, but rather a tangible demonstration of ongoing solidarity and commitment to the Ukrainian people. These dedicated volunteers provided crucial support in areas such as the distribution of medical supplies (cardiac defibrillators and first aid kits), food (via Siobhan’s Trust Heroes Foundation) and clothing (fire fighting uniforms, protective equipment).

But their dedication knows no geographical boundaries. Even back in Quebec, these intrepid humanitarians persist tirelessly in their efforts to help this murdered country. An idea sprouted in the minds of Jocelyn Richer and Serge Fournier, but they had no idea it would require this much perseverance to bring it to fruition.

Photo: Facebook/Richard Kelly

Turning an idea into a project

As the initial idea took shape, Jocelyn Richer found himself at the heart of the action, guiding each step with a quiet but resolute determination. Modest and dedicated, he invested a lot of hard work and energy into turning a simple idea into a concrete reality. His tireless commitment and discreet leadership, accompanied by his communicative smile, have been the pillars of this humanitarian initiative. Without seeking personal recognition, Jocelyn has been working behind the scenes, mobilizing the efforts of other volunteers and partners to achieve a common goal. His essential role in making this project a reality illustrates the effectiveness of individual action to bring about positive change in the world.

Having noticed on the ground that the emergency services were voluntarily working with minimal equipment, often outdated, and in precarious conditions, due to the allocation of budgets exclusively to the war effort, “we decided to provide them our aid as soon as we return to Quebec in November 2023,” according to Jocelyn Richer. This task has not been without challenges.

Photo: Facebook/Richard Kelly

An idea carrying great values can be contagious, and that’s exactly what happened here. At the beginning, Serge Fournier, firefighter in the city of Montreal, found himself with only 15 used fire uniforms that he wanted to send to Ukraine. These uniforms, offered by Mr. Martin Thifault, lieutenant in the technical division of the Montreal Fire Security Service, had been purchased on his own initiative.

Serge spoke with his good friend, Jocelyn Richer, Blainville Fire Chief, in hopes of increasing this number to 50 fire fighting uniforms. In early December, Jocelyn was going around with her fire department to find outdated clothing according to our standards. He discussed the project with his director, Claude Deschuymer, who, delighted and enthusiastic about the project, widened the discussion to other fire departments in the area during a regional meeting of fire directors, including those of Repentigny, Saint-Jérôme, and Saint-Eustache. This initiative triggered a real chain reaction.

Photo: Facebook/Richard Kelly

After such a favorable reaction, Jocelyn Richer was convinced to gather around a hundred combat clothes but was worried about how to transport them to Ukraine. This is where another member of Équipe Québec, Gerry Frappier, enters into play. He began moves with the Canadian army in early January. He communicated with his contacts, the wait lasted a few weeks, and finally the answer was negative. Far from being put down, Gerry directed his request to the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa while Jocelyn embarked on another walk with the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, represented by Ms. Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz. She, very interested, worked together with Gerry’s contact at the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada, M. Vasyl Bodnar.

Multiple email exchanges, detailed descriptions of equipment, as well as sending photos were undertaken with various stakeholders, ultimately leading to a favorable response. Thursday, the 4th of April, marked the conclusion of a chapter, with the departure of 6 pallets of equipment valued at more than 1900 pounds to Ukraine via the GlobalMedic foundation, represented by Michelle Adams. That’s a grand total of 120 fire fighting suits with all the equipment attached to them!

Photo: Facebook/Richard Kelly

Their example illustrates the power of compassion and solidarity in transforming lives and building a better future. As the world continues to face unprecedented humanitarian challenges, Équipe Québec’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine resonates as a call to action and a poignant reminder of our collective responsibility towards our fellows in need.

Asked about his feelings about this wonderful project, Jocelyn Richer enthusiastically responded: “I am extremely happy with everyone’s commitment and success we have had with this project!”

Photo: Facebook/Richard Kelly

This fire protection equipment will be a valuable aid to Ukrainian first responders, allowing them to work safely and increasing their ability to save lives. However, from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely hope that other emergency services in Quebec follow our example and join this beautiful chain of solidarity, because the needs are immense. Together, we can perform miracles and make a real difference in the lives of those who need it most, especially in the face of the urgent emergency in Ukraine.

Through this message, we want to convey a strong message: each of us can contribute to support Ukraine, even without going there physically, because every little bit counts.

With pride and appreciation to my colleagues,

Richard Kelly
Member of Team Quebec

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