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Pizza shop owner in Hope reflects on feeding stranded travellers

Suki Kang says he drew on experiences from Punjab hometown during the floods
Sukhi Kang, the owner of Hope Panago Pizza, says it was simply “the right thing to do” when it came to feeding people during the floods. (Kemone Moodley/Hope Standard)

Last November’s floods took many Hope residents by surprise; many in the community hadn’t had to grapple with the effects of a heavy rainstorm before nor a flood that left them without hot food or electricity.

But for Sukhi Kang, the owner of Hope Panago Pizza, the flood was a very familiar sight.

“Long story short, where I come from, in my hometown in India, we would get a lot of floods,” says Kang. “And our village was the highest campground that people could safely come to [in the area]. And people were hungry. And the only thing we could do was [feed] them. And my father would say, ‘do not charge them money. Anyone that comes to you, give them food. It’s okay’.”

Kang says that his father emphasized the importance of helping those affected by the floods, every time they struck. And that providing for your neighbours and anyone in need was the right thing to do.

It was this experience, along with his father’s teachings, that inspired Kang to give plenty of fresh and free pizza to the hundreds of people stranded on the highway during the floods.

“It was just the right thing to do,” says Kang. “[And] I had to do something…So, the next thing that was on my mind was how was I going to do this? How was I going to give people pizza?”

At the time, power had been cut off to Hope. Rather than letting the food in his restaurant go to waste, Kang used the generator obtained from Mayor Victor Smith (who, at the time, had been councillor) to cook pizza and distribute it to those stuck.

“I called up Victor and said, ‘let’s make some pizzas’,” says Kang. He goes, ‘how are you going to do that?’ I said, ‘if you provide me a generator.’ And he goes, ‘15 minutes’.”

Kang, with the help of a few of his workers, used up all the ingredients in his restaurant to make the pizzas. During this time, Kang also called up Hope Pizza Place and got them onboard with helping him feed everybody when his supply of food ran out. This generosity was greatly appreciated by those stranded — many who were tired, hungry and scared. In fact, Kang says he received a lot of thank you cards and expressions of gratitude long after the floods.

A resident of Hope and the owner of Panago since 2011, Kang moved to Nunavut in 1991 before eventually finding a home in the district. His time in the city, especially during the floods, has made him proud to be a member of the Hope community; he says he is proud of how quickly and willingly the people of Hope worked together to look after those who were stranded.

“I know now that if I ever needed help, that this is the best community to come together and stand up for you. And that’s something we’re kind of losing in these days,” says Kang. “When someone is in trouble, people don’t call each other for help anymore. So, I’m proud to be here.”

When asked about future atmospheric events, Kang says he will simply do what he did before; go with the flow and be ready to help those in need.

“I wouldn’t change anything. I’d do what I did before…my kids were so proud of me for doing this. And it feels good.”

READ MORE: Flood mitigation crucial to preventing future disasters: Senate report on B.C.’s 2021 floods


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Kemone Moodley

About the Author: Kemone Moodley

I began working with the Hope Standard on August 2022.
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