September 9 - Heavy rains throughout the summer and the resulting flooding in Pakistan since July have killed an estimated 1,600 people and left an additional 17 million displaced, as homes have been destroyed, seriously damaged or inundated with mud and water.
The Toronto District School Board extends its deepest condolences to the tens of thousands of members of Toronto’s Pakistani community, as well as those directly affected by this natural disaster in the South Asian country.
“On behalf of everyone at the TDSB, I would like to express my sincere sorrow for those who have lost friends and family in the South Asian nation,” said Bruce Davis, TDSB Chair. “We share in the grief of our classmates, coworkers and friends as they hear news of death and destruction or wait for word from friends and family in the vast area affected by the flood. Our thoughts are with each and every person affected by this tragedy."
The Chair also expressed concern over the federal government’s current September 12 deadline to have donations for the relief efforts in Pakistan matched. “Although I am sure it was not intentional, by setting the September 12 deadline, schools have been excluded from the opportunity of having private donations they have raised matched by the government,” he wrote in a letter to the Hon. Beverley Oda, Minister of International Cooperation.
The TDSB is supporting UNICEF and the Canadian Red Cross in their relief efforts in Pakistan. To contribute directly to these agencies online, please visit www.unicef.ca/tdsb or www.redcross.ca/tdsb. We’ll also be setting up collections at each of our schools for donations in cash or cheque. For all donations in excess of $10, made either online or by cheque, tax receipts will be issued by the respective charities. The need is great and so we ask students and staff, parents and area residents to do what they can.
Natural disasters throughout the world are always felt especially keenly here in Toronto, the home to communities of people from around the world, including a large Pakistani community. “As Canadians, we have a unique dual perspective,” said Chris Spence, Director of Education. “As we watch the images of suffering on our TVs and computers, we experience conflicting emotions. We are so fortunate to remain safe in Canada but we also feel a sense of responsibility to help our fellow global citizens when the need is there.”
Dr. Spence has asked everyone in the TDSB community to pull together to support the aid and recovery effort in any way they can. “No donation, even $1 or $2, is too small. I’m calling on you to go beyond feeling sympathy for the survivors - take action!” he said.
The TDSB is asking schools and Board sites to coordinate a Fundraising Friday event for September 17 and to observe one minute of silence on Thursday, September 9. We hope you will take some time on this day to remember those who have lost their lives or are continuing their struggle to survive in this terrible tragedy.