From behind the front lines of the devastating Grouse Complex wildfire around Kelowna, one man exemplified everything that it means to be a Canadian citizen.
When the Popkum Fire Department was called on to help defend homes from the raging wildfire in the Central Okanagan, Fire Chief Walter Roos jumped into action to mobilize his team. He left his home in the Lower Mainland behind to help fight the fire encroaching on West Kelowna, despite knowing that it would cost him the opportunity to attend his long-awaited citizenship ceremony.
On Monday August 21, Roos took a moment away from the chaos of the front lines to sit in the Popkum Fire Department to officially become a new Canadian citizen, over Zoom.
Prior to the quiet virtual ceremony,West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund shared his appreciation and admiration for the act of selflessness that Roos displayed.
“People are asking me where he is from, and I don’t know. But I do know that he is going to be from Canada…What a massive sacrifice to make,” said Brolund at a press conference.
Roos has been the Chief of the Popkum Fire Department since 2019, and has been fighting fires as a member of the Volunteer Fire Department since 2008 after moving to Canada from the Netherlands.
Now, hundreds of people, including Canadian Immigration and Citizenship, have joined Brolund in sharing heartfelt thank yous and congratulations after the Pookum Fire Department posted about the Zoom ceremony on Facebook.
“Thank you for all you and your crew are doing to keep Canadians safe,” the Citizenship and Immigration Facebook page wrote.
During this year’s Citizenship Week, Canada welcomed more than 13,500 new Canadians from all provinces and territories.
The Popkum Fire Department is located in the Lower Mainland in Rosedale, between Chilliwack and Agassiz.