Montreal's Greek community holds benefit concert to support victims of wildfires
'Greeks are really resilient people and we stand together; we're strong'
On Sunday afternoon, members of Montreal's Greek community gathered for a benefit concert at the Hellenic Community Centre to raise money for those affected by deadly wildfires that swept through parts Greece July 23.
Greek musicians performed at the community centre, located in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, donating their time and helping to raise money for the relief effort.
"Let's call on the musicians of our community to do a benefit concert, all volunteers, all free of charge to show the people of Greece, irregardless of the amount that we will collect, that we are at their side," said John Theodosopolous,
president of the Hellenic Congress of Quebec.
In the days since the wildfire raged through a coastal area east of Athens, the death toll has risen to 91.
As stories of devastation made their way to friends and family in Montreal, Paris Petrou told CBC's Homerun that the community was deeply affected.
"From the stories that we get, there is a real Greek tragedy [on] every block, in every neighbourhood," said Petrou, director of public relations at the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal.
Petrou has a friend with a home on a hillside in Mati, a small, seaside village about 30 kilometres east of Athens that has suffered some of the most extensive damage after homes, cars and entire neighbourhoods were engulfed in flames.
Petrou's friend's home burned down and that friend's neighbour, an elderly woman, was killed alongside two of her grandchildren as they tried to escape.
The concert was organized by the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, the Hellenic Congress of Quebec, and the Magic Mission Committee, which raises money for Greek institutions.
Nicolas Sigalas, Consul General of Greece in Montreal, was born in Athens and said he'd visited the affected area many times before the fires.
"I remember going with my parents," he said. "We all know friends that had to face and survive this catastrophe."
Organizers say all the money raised at Sunday's event will go directly to people on the ground.
Andreas Crilis, vice-president of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, told CBC he's proud to see his friends and neighbours showing their solidarity.
"Greeks are really resilient people and we stand together; we're strong. Hopefully with a lot of courage and strength, the rebuild will happen quickly."
With files from CBC Montreal's Homerun, Simon Nakonechny