The CIM national office and its affiliated societies and branches donated just over $110,000 to the relief effort in Fort McMurray following the wildfires that broke out in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Alberta, last May.

The institute’s Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fund has been divided between five local charities: the Northern Lights Health Foundation, the Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association, the Fort McMurray Firefighters Relief Fund, the Borealis Consulting Services and   Habitat for Humanity Wood Buffalo. Some funds were also initially donated to the Canadian Red Cross directly by members to help with immediate needs during the evacuation of Fort McMurray.

The relief fund was distributed by the CIM Oilsands Branch. Isaac Bussin, the branch’s chairperson, said the board wanted to donate the money to smaller charities that do not have large endowments. “It’s a hard question, but we looked at who needed it the most,” said Bussin.

One of those was the Northern Lights Health Foundation, a charity that provides medical services and equipment to the local community. The branch usually raises money for the foundation through its annual golf tournament, but it was cancelled this year due to the wildfires. CIM provided about $31,500 to the foundation, which will go toward purchasing a bronchoscope to detect smoke damage in the airways of affected community members, said Bussin.

The Oilsands branch also donated about $38,500 – or roughly one third of the total funds collected – to the Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association. According to Anna Noble,

communications and development coordinator at the food bank, three of every four people using the food bank are new users and nearly half of those receiving food are under the age of 18.

“I am very proud of how CIM rose to the challenge as a collective,” said CIM executive director Jean Vavrek. “This is the CIM I came to love in the ‘80s when I started to work in the industry, and the CIM that keeps volunteers, members and corporations coming back.”

In addition to the money raised by CIM national and its branches, the Canadian Mineral Processors society (CMP) also raised and donated $14,000 to the Canadian Red Cross.

The wildfire forced the evacuation of all of Fort McMurray’s 80,000 residents, and ultimately destroyed some 2,400 buildings.