Rotarians Bernie Kreiner and Nicole Konkin serve as ShelterBox ambassadors in District 5370


ShelterBox tents were deployed following a typhoon which devastated parts of the Philippines in 2012

When disaster strikes anywhere in the world, Bernie Kreiner (RC of Hinton) is confident that help will soon be on its way from ShelterBox, a project partner in disaster relief with Rotary International.

Bernie and Nicole Konkin (RC of Edmonton) are ShelterBox Canada ambassadors in District 5370. In this role, they are responsible for “raising awareness and promoting ShelterBox Canada within the District,” Bernie says.

“We make presentations to Rotary clubs, at schools and to community groups,” Nicole says. “We take a kit with us and set it up so that people can see what’s in a ShelterBox.”

On its website, ShelterBox Canada states that ShelterBoxes “are filled with practical tools and utensils that help to create the framework for everyday life.” These include a family-sized tent to shelter people from the elements and provide “a safe space in which people can start to recover from the physical and emotional trauma.”

A typical ShelterBox includes what a family needs to survive the aftermath of a disaster, such as tarps, blankets, solar lights, a cooking stove, pots, dishes, a shovel, a water purification system, and mosquito netting.

Double-Walled tents for colder climates

There is some variation in the contents of ShelterBoxes, based on local circumstances. For example, double-walled tents are deployed in regions where colder temperatures are common.

When a disaster occurs, boxes are on their way to where they are needed within two or


Winterized ShelterBox tents sheltered Syrian families in a refugee camp in norther Iraq

three days, from seven warehouses located around the world. Distribution is co-ordinated from the headquarters in England, where ShelterBox was established in 2000 by a Rotary club as a Millennium project. Its purpose is to provide temporary shelter and supplies to families who have been displaced by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, drought and famine.

ShelterBox Canada, which is a registered Canadian charity, has been part of the ShelterBox network since 2010.

Supporting ShelterBox Canada is a way for Youth to Make a Difference

Nicole says she was “first drawn to ShelterBox because I do lots of work with youth. They always want to do something and this is a way in which they can become involved.”

She believes that ShelterBox is an ideal vehicle for this type of involvement, “because if we can get resources to families when they are most in need, we can get them back to normalcy more quickly. If they are dry and safe, they are ready to rebuild.”

Bernie explains his involvement by saying that he “was impressed by how the organization works in partnership with Rotary. I appreciate how they deal with people who are experiencing crisis in their lives, in the aftermath of war and natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods.”

Based on his own experience, he can relate to what it’s like to encounter a natural disaster. “I myself was displaced by a flood,” he says, recalling what happened in 1988 when he was living in Slave Lake.

In addition to its iconic boxes, the organization provides ShelterKits, which contain what people need to begin recovering and repairing their homes, including such items as tools, ropes, tarpaulins and “whatever it takes to help people recover from disaster.”

“We test and evaluate all the aid we provide by talking to, and learning from, the families who use it. This fuels us to be innovative and to continue evolving,” says ShelterBox Canada’s website.

In the past 12 months, ShelterBox has responded to 24 events in 21 countries, including the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the Caribbean, drought in Somaliland and conflict in Iraq.

To learn more about ShelterBox, visit the organization’s website or contact Bernie (780-865-9355 or or Nicole (780-756-0719 or They are available to speak to your club or arrange for a ShelterBox to be shipped to you to be displayed in your community.

You can make a donation in support of ShelterBox Canada online, or mail a cheque to: ShelterBox Canada, 159 Jane Street, Office 2, Toronto, ON M6S 3Y8. You can also make donations by phoning 1-855-875-4661.

Tax receipts will be issue for donations of $20 or more.