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Kelowna family goes viral with video about COVID-19 vaccine mandate at Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald House has found itself at the centre of the global controversy surrounding COVID-19 vaccine mandates after a video uploaded by a Kelowna family went viral.

In the video, a father – Austin Furgason – challenges a member of staff at Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon (RMHBC) in Vancouver over his family’s impending vaccination-related eviction.

He and his wife Lindsay are staying at the facility because their young son, Jack, is being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to Furgason's Facebook page and an online fundraiser.

Furgason explains in the video that his family has been told to leave RMHBC because he and his wife are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Furgason – said to attend Harvest Church in Kelowna – can be heard in the video telling the member of staff that it is a “great evil to evict sick kids.”

He adds that the charity’s policy is “segregation.”

In response, the RMHBC staff member explains that the vaccination policy is in place to keep people in the facility safe. RMHBC also later explained in a statement that it is helping families affected by the policy to find somewhere else to stay.

The video of the confrontation, uploaded to Facebook by Furgason yesterday, has since gone viral across social media.

“Ronald McDonald” was trending on Twitter on Wednesday, with a host of media personalities who oppose mandatory COVID-19 vaccination discussing the Furgasons.

The GoFundMe page for the family, started in October last year with a target of $5,000, has attracted tens of thousands of dollars in donations over the last day.

In a statement to KelownaNow, RMHBC said its “top priority” is “caring for families with sick children in a safe environment.”

The charity added: “We have had specific procedures and policies such as limiting visitors to the House, daily wellness checks and physical distancing in place throughout the pandemic that are designed to ensure the highest level of safety for families, staff and volunteers within our communal living environment.

“On the recommendation of public health, the 14-member Board of Directors made the decision to mandate vaccinations for everyone working, visiting, or staying at RMHBC & Yukon to ensure we continue to meet the highest standards of health and safety and protect the vulnerable population we serve.

“We have informed all stakeholders of this decision including staff, volunteers and families and we are working with all families during the grace period in order to understand their particular circumstances and support them in finding alternate accommodation arrangements if we are unable to accommodate them.

“We appreciate that this policy will impact those who have made a decision not to vaccinate; however, the overall health and welfare of all our residents is our primary concern.”

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