As of today (July 24, 2017), there are over a hundred wildfires burning throughout BC and at least two dozen of those fires are near First Nations communities, according to the most recent wildfire update BCAFN released. A lot of communities have been impacted including eight out of the 17 Secwepemc communities. The Secwepemc communities that were evacuated include: Alkali Lake, Soda Creek and Williams Lake Indian Band. The communities that are on alert and that have evacuated their elder’s due to health concerns are Canim Lake, Bonaparte, Canoe/Dog Creek, Whispering Pines and Skeetchestn.
Secwepemc communities not impacted by forest fires have stepped up to help those in need, notably Tk’emlups te Secwepemc who have opened their pow wow arbor for evacuees to camp and use its facilities. Members of the community have pulled together in providing campers with three meals per day.
The Chiefs would like to thank the volunteers that are committing their time and energy to our people currently relocated throughout our territory. The Chiefs thank the Secwepemc Health Caucus staff that are providing assistance in this time of crisis by providing emotional and spiritual ceremonial support for Elders, children and people. The Chiefs also ask for prayers and ceremonies for the safety of the Kukukpi7 (Chiefs) and our people who stayed behind to protect the homes and community infrastructure.
Today, the Secwepemc Chiefs would like to make a call for assistance from the non-impacted Secwepemc communities and the non-Secwepemc neighboring communities. Our people who have been and are evacuated will have limited time to harvest our traditional foods, salmon and berries. Those traditional foods along with staples like meat, rice and potatoes are needed to stock up for the winter.
The Secwepemc Chiefs are calling on all communities for donations of preserved traditional foods or perishable foods that may be canned for evacuees unable to preserve for themselves. We are also requesting donations of canning jars and supplies. Secwepemc staples needed are; salmon, meat, fruit, berries, vegetables, rice and potatoes. Donations will be accepted at the Splatsin Community Centre where they will be canned and stored until the Shuswap Gathering on August 18, 19 & 20. We will then have a traditional giveaway ceremony for the Secwepemc families impacted by the fires.
Where to Donate: Splatsin Community Centre (cold storage and freezer on site). Contact person: Splatsin Councilor Edna Felix Edna_felix@spatsin.ca Cell: 250-308-6811. Address: 5775 Old Vernon Road, Enderby, BC. For media inquiries: Kukpi7 Wayne Christian, Tribal Chief of Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, Kukpi7_christian@splatsin.ca.
CHIEF WAYNE CHRISTIAN
Shuswap Nation Tribal Council