Tourmaline gives $68,000 boost to Fort St. John charities

Two Fort St. John charities each received a $34,000 boost on Wednesday thanks to Tourmaline Oil.

Tourmaline Oil donated $33,966 each to both the Fort St. John Firefighters Charitable Society and the local Red Cross, proceeds from the company's annual golf tournament held at Lakepoint on July 18. The tournament raised $33,966 through cash donations and auction draws. Tourmaline then matched that dollar for dollar.

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"These are two local charities that are actually helping local people and the money stays local," said Curtis Whitford, in charge of Tourmaline's special projects in Northeast B.C.

The Red Cross was a "perfect choice," Whitford said, noting he became aware of the agency's need for support after returning equipment that he father had borrowed.

"They had a waiting list for this equipment because they were in short supply," Whitford said.

The firefighters help not just burn victims through the burn fund, but local families who need help covering their travel expenses to receive medical care outside of Fort St. John.

"They do an enormous amount of work, but it all stays local," Whitford said.

Capt. Brent Morgan said the donation comes as at a great time for the firefighters charity. The firefighters maintain platinum sponsorship for the burn fund, and their medical travel fund for local families is seeing growing demand.

"As our medical travel fund is getting more and more out there, more and more people are using it," Morgan said.

"If it keeps going the way it is, we might be out of funds before our next charity ball in the spring. This is a huge help to help ease our minds."

The donation from Tourmaline will allow the firefighters to help between 15 to 20 local families, based on their medical needs, Morgan said.

"We want to thank the community, the companies in Fort St. John," Morgan said. "It's a small community, and everyone seems to step up and help everybody when they need to."

The donation to the Red Cross will help the agency buy more equipment for its local health equipment loan program, which supports around 700 people each year.

"We usually go through a lot of wheelchairs, we go through a lot of bathroom aids," said volunteer John Armstrong. "When you have a surgery or an injury or just need it for your condition, these things are so much help for those folks."

The loan program is free, helping patients avoid the expensive cost of buying medical equipment themselves. The Red Cross usually only sees some small donations from clients, $20 here and there as a thank you. Corporate donations are rare, and Tourmaline's support will go a long way to bring in new equipment that's needed.

"It's good for the city and the outlying areas to see that the oil corporations do worry about what we would call the little people down here looking after the little people down here," said volunteer Carol Andrews.

Barbara Pasechnik, office manager for Tourmaline in Fort St. John, said the local office gets together to drum up ideas for charities to support through the golf tournament. There were around a dozen charities suggested this year, she said.

"We like these types of charities, they're run by volunteers," Pasechnik said. 

"So, the money you're giving is not going to pay their wages, it's going to the cause. That's really big to us."

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at

Staff from Tourmaline Oil in Fort St. John present the Red Cross with a cheque for $33,966, raised from the company's annual golf tournament in July. Pictured: Red Cross volunteers Carol Andrews and John Armstrong with Tourmaline staff Curtis Whitford, Karley Konashuk, Barbara Pasechnik, Janet Abbott, and Vanessa Hogarth. - Matt Preprost
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