The Huskies have got your back. North Delta Secondary basketball players

‘Once a Husky, always a Husky’

North Delta Secondary rallies to support teacher who lost her home in White Rock fire.

Throughout the high school boys basketball season, North Delta Secondary teacher Sandra Peel has been the Huskies’ biggest fan.

Every game, home and away, Peel would sit directly behind the team’s bench and shout encouragement to the players. She would even bring fruit and snacks for them, always making sure they had everything they needed to be successful.

She was loud, but positive.

Peel isn’t a coach. In fact, she has never played basketball. But the connections she has made beyond the classroom and on the court is scoring the teacher some points in the wake of a devastating fire that left her homeless.

On Sunday (May 15), the condominium complex in White Rock Peel has called home for 12 years burned to the ground, displacing her and more than 100 residents.

Peel, 64, had no insurance for her possessions, an oversight in a busy life.

She lost everything she owned.

On Monday morning, news of the devastating fire began to filter through the staff and students at the North Delta school and everyone soon learned one of their own had been affected.

That’s when a group of staff members decided to come together to help. Through an online campaign, the students and staff raised $7,500 for Peel in 24 hours – a total that as of Wednesday afternoon had reached more than $14,000.

However, members of the school’s boys’ junior and senior basketball teams felt a strong connection to the teacher and wanted to do more.

“All year, our coaches have been teaching us if one of your teammates goes down, you help them up,” said Brandon Bassi, 16. “Because we’re all one and Ms. Peel is just like another teammate to us, that’s how much she means to us. Once a Husky, always a Husky.”

No matter where the team played all season, he said, Peel was there to support them, so it was now their obligation to help her back to her feet.

“Ms. Peel wasn’t just a teacher to us, she was a parent figure as well,” added Armaan Johal. “She cares about all of us.”

In addition to the school’s GoFundMe page, the team plans to raise $150 per player, most likely through a bottle drive, to add a personal contribution to the fundraising efforts.

As an English and humanities teacher, Peel is tough, Bassi said. She makes her students work. But the purpose of her direct approach to learning is not lost on them.

“She’s a hard teacher, she marks hard,” he said. “But that’s just because she want the best. She wants us to succeed.”

Sandra PeelFor Peel (left), the outpouring of support had been heartwarming and emotional and has helped to cushion her devastating loss.

The fire that burned her condo complex began in a construction site next door. Hearing the fire alarm early Sunday morning, Peel ran out of her building with only the clothes on her back. Once the blaze jumped from the new construction project to Peel’s building, the inferno couldn’t be contained.

Currently staying with family on Vancouver Island, Peel hopes to be back in the classroom soon. She’s grateful for all the positive messages she has received, but she’s not surprised, noting she always had a simple message for her students.

“I’ve always said to my kids, ‘it’s not what you do when people are watching, it’s what you do when people aren’t watching,’ and that’s what they’re doing now.”

Her connection North Delta runs deep, as both of her children graduated from North Delta Secondary nearly 20 years ago.

During the teachers’ strike last year, the union gave out food vouchers to help them get through a tough financial time. Peel knew one of her colleagues, new to the profession, was struggling to support his young family, so she gave her vouchers to him. Her only stipulation was that he pay it forward some day.

This week she noticed an online donation from that same teacher.

“He paid me back for what I had done,” said Peel, her voice breaking. “That’s just so awesome. That’s just what people do.”

If you would like to help, go to The Phoenix Campaign – Help Ms. Peel at

To help other victims of the White Rock fire, go to

Just Posted

Surrey-based business donates $1M to hospital’s children centre improvements

Surrey Hospital Foundation kicks off campaign for ‘transformation’ of children’s centre

OUR VIEW: Surrey’s unsung heroes inspire

The Now-Leader was proud to celebrate some deserving unsung heroes in this city on Wednesday night

Metro Vancouver mayors cancel Surrey LRT in favour of SkyTrain

Doug McCallum claims he can build the line for the $1.65 billion already committed to light rail

North Delta family raising money for brain cancer treatment

23-year-old Tashina Janus and her family are raising funds to get her immunotherapy in the U.S.

Surrey opera singer brings Mozart’s ‘Così fan tutte’ to Vancouver stage

Nancy Hasiuk-Lay has been hailed for her ‘sparkling and crystalline vocal tone’

Surrey Community Leader Award winners revealed

The 16th CLA awards, presented by the Now-Leader, recognized Surrey’s un-sung heroes

B.C. Realtor suspended after helping intern forge note about sick grandma

Vancouver real estate agent Jaideep Singh Puri has to pay fine, take ethics course

Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding sparks outrage

Post taken down after Conservative MP in neighbouring riding condemns it and demands removal

Friends describe murder victim as ‘most caring guy we knew’

Jagvir Malhi of Abbotsford was not involved in gangs or criminal activity, they say

John Horgan shrugs off low turnout, change to referendum option

‘No’ proportional representation group says voting should be extended

Two more government pot shops to open in Kamloops

Two private applications are also in the queue to come before city council by the end of the year

2 B.C. men charged after allegedly stealing $1,400 worth of butter

The two men, ages 23 and 25, are facing charges of theft under $5,000, Coquitlam police said

Invasive fire ants join the tourist swarms at Hawaii Volcano National Park

Invasive species found at popular tourist destination

Ten-year sentence for man convicted of B.C. belt-strangling death

Shayne McGenn guilty of manslaughter in 2016 death of David Delaney, 63

Most Read