Remarks by Kamloops-South Kamloops MLA Todd Stone in the B.C. Legislature on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021:
T. Stone: This is a story of resilience. Unless you’ve lived through a wildfire, you have no idea what it’s like to experience losing everything. These are words shared by dozens of families who lost their homes due to the White Rock Lake wildfire this summer.
I have huge respect and gratitude for the residents of Monte Lake and Paxton Valley who, this past August, stepped up for each other amid tragedy. They did so because of the love they have for their community. This raging inferno left behind heartbreaking scenes of destruction. But it might have been even worse if not for the determination of residents who took matters into their own hands on August 5, in the absence of help that they desperately needed.
It’s easy to judge these folks, but it takes more effort to stop and listen to what might prompt someone to stay behind and risk their lives during an emergency. One resident said: “Everything that I have is invested here. All I have is my home, my land, my animals. If I don’t save this, I’m too old to start over again.”
Another neighbour added: “There are times you have to stand up and do it yourself, especially when nobody else is there to help you.”
These honest, hard-working, decent folks continue to forge on as best they can, helping one another with housing, food, even hay for their animals. Some are multigenerational families that built these communities and even contributed to building our province, while other, more recent arrivals are continuing the tradition of supporting their community here and now. Whether in ranching, farming or forestry, they’ve been minding their own business, raising their families, not asking for handouts from government. But they need help today.
One resident summed this up well recently when she said: “Come to my property and look at a desolate, bare, blackened, horrible nightmare that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. We have nothing.”
Nearly three months later, it’s time to get these resilient people of Monte Lake and Paxton Valley the supports they need and deserve to rebuild their homes and, indeed, rebuild their lives.
Source: B.C. Hansard.