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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 14:49 GMT
Temple sold to raise tsunami cash
Buddha statue (archive)
The group had planned to build a bigger temple near Vancouver
A small Canadian Buddhist congregation has sold one of its temples to raise money for Asian tsunami victims.

The abbot of the temple in Mission, east of Vancouver, handed a cheque for 500,000 Canadian dollars (US $405,000, 219,000) to the Canadian Red Cross.

A Tibetan group will now take over the temple after purchasing it from its Vietnamese congregation.

The temple had been on the market in the hope to raise funds for building a bigger temple in Mission.

Abbot Thick Nguyen Thao told the congregation on New Year's Day that he wanted to donate the proceeds from the sale to tsunami relief.

"When the abbot made his announcement, a lot of people dropped their jaws, but after a day went by everybody began supporting him wholeheartedly," temple board member Vi Liet Nguyen told the Vancouver Sun.

The abbot said this was a gesture of gratitude to the people of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines for receiving Vietnamese refugees, when they fled persecution by the communist regime in the 1970s.

Red Cross spokeswoman Carmen Mackenzie called this donation "phenomenal".

The group retains its main temple in the suburbs of Vancouver.

Local media report that Christian, Muslim, Jewish and aboriginal communities in the Vancouver area have also made large donations to tsunami relief funds.

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