Meet 'The Helpers' of 2021 — those who came through when times were tough

·4 min read
Tucker the farm dog was rescued from a barn roof as flood water rose quickly around him in the Fraser Valley's Sumas PraIrie. He's pictured after his rescuer, Jordan Olsen of Langley, gave him a warm bath. (Submitted by Casey Gulliker - image credit)
Tucker the farm dog was rescued from a barn roof as flood water rose quickly around him in the Fraser Valley's Sumas PraIrie. He's pictured after his rescuer, Jordan Olsen of Langley, gave him a warm bath. (Submitted by Casey Gulliker - image credit)

Casey Guliker's Fraser Valley hog farm was evacuated Nov. 15 during severe flooding on Sumas Prairie and he became separated from his dog Tucker in the chaos — until a perfect stranger brought them back together.

That stranger, Jordan Olsen, is one of the British Columbians nominated for CBC Vancouver's special series called The Helpers which honours those who stepped up to support their community during times of danger, loss and uncertainty in 2021.

As the flood waters rose quickly around his barn after record-breaking rainfall, Guliker started moving his livestock to higher ground. Six farmhands and six volunteers had come to help and Tucker was placed on a flat roof while they worked.

But the water rose so fast, they had to cut a hole in the barn's attic to get onto the roof and then climb down a feed bin ladder into a rescue boat. There wasn't time to go back for Tucker.

That night Olsen was in Langley, at home in bed. He saw a Facebook post asking for help to rescue Tucker and immediately called up some friends, arranged a small boat and headed in the direction of the farm.

Submitted by Jordan Olsen
Submitted by Jordan Olsen

After searching the wrong property and almost giving up hope, Olsen and his friends finally found the right barn.

"I was shinning my flashlight around... and I saw these two bright reflections of his eyes, [it was] just a huge sigh of relief as we got closer and he started wagging his tail," he said.

Tucker was reunited with his thankful human after a tense forty-eight hours.

You can hear the full story and an interview with Casey Guliker and Jordan Olsen on the CBC Listen site here.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

The Barrowtown Pump Station under threat

Four Abbotsford-area neighbours were recognized this year — by no less than Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — for their early work helping to save the Barrowtown Pump Station after it was nearly swamped by floodwaters during November's deadly and destructive storms.

"We really didn't know what was going to happen, what was coming our way," explained lifelong Barrowtown resident Cam Raines. "We were just doing our best to get proactive and problem solve."

You can hear an interview with Cam Raines and Doug Kasper on the CBC Listen site here.

Rafferty Baker/CBC
Rafferty Baker/CBC

Drug toxicity

The floods were not the only crisis B.C. experienced during 2021.

Karen Ward was nominated by Jean Kavanagh, the media manager for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, for her relentless advocacy for drug users during the deadliest year of B.C.'s ongoing illicit drug poisoning crisis.

"If it wasn't for Karen I don't think I would know what's happening in my city in my province, what's really happening around the other epidemic," said Kavanagh.

Ward, a drug policy adviser for the City of Vancouver, said she saw British Columbians show more willingness to discuss drug use from a human rights perspective in 2021, but hopes things move faster next year.

"I'd like to see the public find its voice on this one. People can be very loud about COVID, and that's great, but people need to be very loud about this as well."

You can hear an interview with Jean Kavanagh and Karen Ward on the CBC Listen site here.

Matt Meuse/CBC, B.C. Wildfire Service/Twitter, Chloé Dioré de Périgny/CBC
Matt Meuse/CBC, B.C. Wildfire Service/Twitter, Chloé Dioré de Périgny/CBC

The wildfires

Chief Justin Kane of the Ts'kw'aylaxw First Nation nominated Darryl Adrian, emergency management coordinator for the Lillooet Tribal Council.

During the wildfire season, Adrian was key to crisis communication between six Northern St'at'imc communities and Emergency Management B.C., often working long hours to help to minimize the losses communities suffered, Kane said.

"What I've learned in the past year is, sometimes there's a gap in the information we as First Nations know and the information the town and District of Lillooet know. There's a big difference," said Kane.

You can hear an interview with Chief Justin Kane and Darryl Adrian on the CBC Listen site here.

Maggie MacPherson/CBC
Maggie MacPherson/CBC

The housing crisis

About 35 people live in Vancouver's Crab Park homeless encampment. For many, volunteer Fiona York stands out for her work coordinating volunteers, advocating for residents and spending time talking to them about their needs.

"She's selfless," said resident Clint Randen, referring to the 40 hours, or more, a week York spends at the encampment.

"The only complaint I have is she should go home more … we don't want her to get sick."

You can hear an interview with Fiona York and Prince George homeless advocate Amelia Merrick on the CBC Listen site here.

With files from Ethan Sawyer and The Early Edition

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