Ambrose Recognized for Providing Shelter in the Storm

On May 6, 2016, Ambrose University opened its doors to 130 people escaping ‘The Beast,’ a raging forest fire threatening the homes and lives of people in Fort McMurray, Alta.

The university provided more than a residence in which to stay during days of great fear and stress — it offered open arms, warm hugs, and staff and faculty who cared deeply about guests’ well-being. By doing all it could to ensure friends and neighbours felt comfortable, supported and welcome, the university showed what it means to live its mission and be a good citizen.

On Tuesday August 22, 2017, the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) offered a token of appreciation for Ambrose’s efforts, presenting a plaque recognizing the university’s heartfelt response to an urgent call for help.

CEMA presents Thank You to Ambrose
“We’re fortunate in Calgary to have post-secondary institutions such as Ambrose University willing to partner with the community to provide services to those people displaced by emergencies,” says Tom Sampson, CEMA Chief, who made the presentation to university leaders.

“Ambrose went above and beyond to ensure that our friends from Fort McMurray were well cared for, not only by providing accommodations, but also by ensuring that the families’ emotional and physical well-being improved during their stay.”

“We’re very much an integral part of this community and welcome the opportunity to respond to crises when they happen,” affirms Ambrose President Gordon Smith, noting that the university was also a refuge for people displaced by the flooding in southern Alberta in 2013.

“We take great pride in our ability to help, and it is crucial missionally for us.”

Offering physical, emotional and spiritual support

Ambrose’s residences offered a home-like environment for people from Fort McMurray who couldn’t return to — and were worried about the fate of — their own homes. Recognizing the importance of supporting more than physical needs, the university cared for families’ emotional and spiritual well-being, opening the library, computer lab and gym for use.

Staff and faculty from across the university lent a hand, working closely with families as well as social services and Red Cross workers, enabling them, in turn, to work more efficiently with and offer better support to Fort McMurray residents.

That willingness to “go the extra mile” is appreciated, Sampson says, noting that CEMA is reassured to know it can count on Ambrose at a moment’s notice and in difficult situations.

“CEMA is unable to predict what displaced individuals will require when they are asked to leave their home, and this activation was no different,” he says, noting that in this instance, needs spanned cultures, and Ambrose was able to assist with halal meals and private rooms for prayer. 

Ambrose Receives Plaque from CEMA
Acting locally to develop global citizens

Civic and global consciousness are both central to the Ambrose University mission, and

having the privilege to respond to a community’s call for help demonstrates the university’s commitment to be a full, active member of Calgary and Alberta.

It is also a profoundly meaningful way to develop global citizens.

“The providence of God has placed Ambrose in this city, and we are deeply committed to our community,” says President Gordon Smith. “We are also deeply committed to the formation of our students, and cultivating a caring disposition helps empower people to respond wherever God takes them, and however they are needed.”

“The civic well-being of wherever God takes you is incredibly important,” Smith explains. “Regardless of program, it is important that students understand they are part of a university that is very much located within its city. In many ways, this is the laboratory for where God may take you next. You will need to seek the peace of that place.”

While emergency situations bring out the best in people and cast the spotlight on immediate actions, responding to community need is central to Ambrose’s identity and arguably part of its institutional DNA. From courses and programs, to undertakings like the Canadian Poverty Institute and the Jaffray Centre for Global Initiatives, which tackle difficult issues affecting millions of people worldwide, Ambrose prepares graduates to serve.

“Responding to human need, no matter how or where it is presented, is a natural and logical expression of what we do,” Smith says. “Last May, we were privileged to have the opportunity to represent the best of Calgary and the best of Ambrose University.”