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After Boiler Burst, Canadian Buddhist Center Gets Help from Union Friends


The Regina Buddhist Centre lost its boiler, its main source of heat, in early December. After pleas to the public, union workers currently in the midst of a labor dispute came to the Buddhist center to offer their help. The workers, members of the Unifor Local 594 which serves the nearby Consumer’s Co-operative Oil Refinery, quickly removed the broken boiler.

The volunteers installed a temporary natural gas heater to keep the building habitable until a new boiler can be installed. “It’s livable, we don’t have to walk around in parkas and toques,” said Ken Crowe, a patron of the Buddhist Centre of Regina. “It’s coming together really, really nicely.” (CTV News)

Rev. Uttam Barua, the center’s abbot, found the boiler in flames on 12 December and immediately shut it down. Since then, the center has put out a plea on GoFundMe to help raise the estimated CA$45,000 (US$34,600) and has currently raised about one fourth of its goal. A second fundraiser, on Facebook, has brought in an additional CA$500 (US$385). In the meantime, all events scheduled over the holiday period have been canceled as the center sought to determine when it could reopen to the public.


“We don’t have much,” Rev. Berua said. “Our center is a non-profit. We are humbly asking the people in Regina and around to show their good heart to support, save this property for future generations,” Berua said, adding that in addition to the GoFundMe campaign, the center is applying for grants from the city of Regina. (CBC)

When union workers heard of the Buddhist center’s needs, they quickly contacted Rev. Barua to offer their help. “I have no words to say,” Barua said. “Those people are so wonderful for me and our Reginian community. I am very, very thankful.” (CBC)

In a post at the Buddhist Centre of Regina’s Facebook page, the abbot continued, “I would like to thank Mr. Kevin Bittman and crew from Co-op Unifor Local 594 Union, Canada for Volunteering for replace our Buddhist Centre heating and boiler system. Thank you all for your dedication and kindness.” (Facebook)

Karl Dahle, one of the volunteers, noted that they had arrived just in time. “We’re pretty worried because if it starts to freeze, your main [water pipes] start to freeze, it becomes a huge job and could be a demo of the whole building eventually. Everyone needs help once in a while, right? If you volunteer and help out as a community, everyone else starts to do it too and [it builds] your community into a better place.” (CBC)


Union members have extended their offer to help install the new boiler for free once it is purchased. Currently, the center, which serves many Buddhists who have immigrated from other countries, barely makes enough in donations to pay monthly bills. “They come from the other countries. They started from zero. Parents are working six or seven days a week. Some parents have two jobs because of a lot of utility, mortgage (expenses),” said Barua. (Regina Leader Post)

Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, is located some 100 km north of the US border in an area known for extremely cold temperatures. Temperatures in the coming forecast include days when the high is below zero Celsius and the lows will reach over 20 below zero.

On 11 January, the center will host an appreciation day starting at 12 p.m. CST. The whole community has been invited to stop by and take part in a new moon blessing and Christmas tea. 

See more

Boiler Replacement (GoFundMe)
Buddhistcentre’s Personal Emergency Fundraiser (Facebook)
Regina Buddhist Centre struggling after broken boiler leaves them in the cold (CBC)
Buddhist Centre closer to boiler replacement thanks to local union volunteers (CTV News)
Buddhist Centre left in the cold while fundraising for new boiler (Regina Leader Post)

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