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Nova Scotia: int’l students cook for community affected by storm Fiona

In the Northend of Sydney, Nova Scotia, a group of international students from India cooked hot meals and served traditional Indian tea in their garden to locals who were left with no power as a result of storm Fiona.

By September 28, some 160,000 people were still without electricity as a result of storm Fiona. Photo: @PrabSohalTweets on Twitter

"A group of international students saw the need to help"

According to the Cape Breton University students, who built stoves using bricks and coal, they have served up food and drinks to more than 4,000 people in their makeshift community kitchen.

The storm known as Fiona began as a hurricane which surged north from the Caribbean where it caused at least five fatalities.

It entered Canada on September 23 as a post-tropical cyclone, killing three people, flattening dozens of homes and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. By September 28, some 160,000 people were still without electricity.

One of the students told CBC that they would continue their efforts until the power is back and people no longer need help.

“Give us permission and we’ll never end it!” the student said.

In an Instagram video posted by the Nova Scotia government, the premier of Nova Scotia, Tim Houston, who visited the students on site, said that he was “so overwhelmed by the kindness of these students, welcoming in strangers and feeding them in their hour of need”.

“A group of international students saw the need to help,” he said. “They got together, pooled their resources and started making food over a fire – the only resource available to them. Word got around and hundreds of hungry students without power showed up for help and every single one of them was fed.”

His message to the students was “thank you for going above and beyond. You’ve done your community and our province proud”.

“That is the Nova Scotia way,” he added.

The actions of the students has caused an outpouring of affection for Canada’s general international student community on social media, with many calling for better conditions and more opportunities for such students.

“Canada’s full of amazing international students eager to make a positive impact”

“Increase health care and work opportunities to international students,” one Instagram user commented on a post by the Nova Scotia government.

Meanwhile, one Twitter user wrote “Canada’s full of amazing international students eager to make a positive impact! This is evidence that we need more favorable legislation that creates a better pathway for international students to become a FOREVER part of Canada!”

Many of the volunteers are part of the Sukhmani Sahib Society, based in Sydney.

One student volunteer told CBC “this is part of our culture actually. Being a Sikh, if you go to a place of worship, sharing food is how we operate.”

According to the student, the group felt it was time to give back to the Cape Breton community as a way of thanks for accepting them.

Further reports on Twitter showed public health students from Cape Breton University who had set up a neighbourhood charging station for those unable to charge electrical devices due to power outages.

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