Capt. Fahim Awan will be embarking on a 40-hour march through the Comox Valley between July 20 and 22 to raise funds for the Comox Bay Care Society.
He will be completing four consecutive 40km loops of the Valley.
Awan knows about marching. He has been the 19 Wing Comox Nijmegen Team Lead since 2020, preparing the contingent of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members at 19 Wing for the largest multi-day march in the world.
Residents have surely spotted them, as they logged more than a thousand kilometres in preparation. Each year since 1952, the CAF participates in the Four Day Marches in Nijmegen, Netherlands.
When the global pandemic put the brakes on the 2020 march, the 19 Wing team embraced a virtual event and set their sights to 2021. When it became apparent that the 2021 event would also be cancelled, the team shifted its focus to the Comox Valley.
“During the countless kilometres logged by the team, by marching all over our community, it has become evident that homelessness in the Comox Valley is on the rise,” explains Awan. “The COVID-19 pandemic, the housing and opioid crises, along with mental health issues, has tipped the scale against the most at-risk members of our community.”
Awan will march the full 160km with support from the other members of the 19 Wing Nijmegen Team who will relay along.
“This rucksack march fundraiser recognizes the humanitarian work that’s ongoing in the Comox Valley through Care-a-Van,” he notes. “By taking healthcare to the street, Care-a-Van bypasses the stigma of homelessness and reaches members of our community that would not otherwise have access due to social and economic obstacles.”
Comox Bay Care Society Care-a-Van is a non-profit, community-funded mobile outreach health unit, providing no-fee health care and social development services directly to people on the streets of the Comox Valley. The skilled team of 50 volunteers includes nurses, doctors, pharmacists, audiologists, optometrists, dentists, denturists, harm reduction workers, advocates, social workers, occupational therapists, chiropractors, supply managers, cleaners, board members, technical staff and drivers. They are committed to providing low-barrier, ethical, and compassionate services.
Since 2009, more than 2,950 unique individuals, homeless or at-risk of homelessness, have received health care services from the Care-a-Van, and the service has increased by 360 per cent since 2013.
“To put our past two years of training to good use for something other than a virtual march, we hope our efforts might bring meaningful change to our community,” concludes Awan. “We are not only CAF members – we are members of the Comox Valley.”
To donate to the Comox Bay Care Society Care-a-Van, e-transfer for direct deposit to email@example.com, noting details for tax receipting purposes, drop off a cheque to 2800 Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay, or donate online at cvcareavan.ca/donate.
There is also an ongoing Care-A-Van account at the Return-It Depot in Courtenay.