Saturday, June 10, 2023

Winnipeg couple left ‘speechless’ with support after Kirkwood Block fire destroys convenience store | Nation World News

Young Ae Lee and Min Soon Lee, owners of the Eben convenience store in Winnipeg – a store destroyed in a fire that closed Portage Avenue for two days – say they are past the initial shock of losing everything and Looking forward to moving forward.

The two spoke to CBC in Korean, translated by their son Kevin Lee standing at the corner of Langside Street and Portage Avenue in front of the burnt shop, where he kept many of his possessions and spent most of his days.

“They are deeply saddened to see their 24 years of business in the state,” Kevin said.

“They’re mostly just worried about all the paperwork … what they have to do and what to do next,” he said.

Winnipeg couple left 'speechless' with support after kirkwood block fire destroys convenience store | nation world news
Smoke rises from a fire at a building on Langside Street in Winnipeg on the morning of Wednesday, February 2, 2022. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Kevin says his parents are currently living in an Airbnb that was offered to him by his girlfriend’s boss until they can find permanent housing.

“This business is our livelihood, their livelihood, our family’s livelihood for the last 20 years,” he said. “He spent most of his life there.”

He said that his parents are considering opening another shop, but it is too early to tell.

‘Amazing Aid’

Kevin and his brother Paul Lee started a GoFundMe page for their parents’ recovery, and since Wednesday the page has raised nearly $27,000.

Speaking in Korean, Kevin’s parents say they are not used to asking for help.

“Growing up, we’ve always taken care of each other. That’s all we had, so it was weird for my parents to see how much support there was.” [they had]”Not just in Winnipeg, in this community, but across the country,” Kevin said.

He said, “They are just speechless. It’s just an amazing amount of support and they just want to thank everyone. I want to thank everyone.”

WATCH: Kevin Lee on his parents’ reaction to public support:

Winnipeg couple left 'speechless' with support after kirkwood block fire destroys convenience store | nation world news

Eben convenience store owners reacting to public support after the fire

Kevin Lee, whose parents ran an Eben convenience store in central Winnipeg for 24 years, talks about their reaction to the support they received from the city and beyond as their store was destroyed in a devastating fire. 0:42

His story was also supported by celebrities such as Andrew Fung, who played Kimchi Han in the CBC sitcom Kim’s facility,

Phung tweeted a link to the GoFundMe page and it was retweeted by Paul Sun-hyung Lee, who played Kim Sang-il on the same show.

“He’s never seen the show, but that show is our life,” Kevin said. “Just the fact that someone as popular as Andrew Fung tweeted support for our family means the world to us, just to get our story out there.”

next steps

Kevin said that right now, he is looking for a permanent living position for his parents and helping them recover their ID and paperwork, as their purses were also lost in the fire.

“We had all of our sentimental baggage and that’s what hurt my mom the most,” he said. “The childhood albums, my parents’ wedding albums were all there.”

Winnipeg couple left 'speechless' with support after kirkwood block fire destroys convenience store | nation world news
Last Thursday, firefighters continued to extinguish the building early in the morning. (Meghan Ketchison / CBC)

Kevin works in Terrace, BC, and goes back to help his parents when he heard about the fire.

“It really puts things in perspective, what are your priorities in life,” he said.

“It’s devastating to think about what we lost. But you know, we still have each other and I think that’s what matters most.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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