The Tsilhqot’in Nation released a statement this morning (Aug. 10) sending condolences and support to the Tahltan Nation after wildfires near Telegraph Creek, B.C. destroyed homes and structures in the First Nations community.
The Tsilhqot’in Nation comprises the communities of Tl’esqox (Toosey), Yunesit’in (Stone), Tl’etinqox (Anaham), Tsi Del Del (Redstone), Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah Valley) ?Esdilagh (Alexandria) and Ulkatcho (Anahim Lake).
The fires near Telegraph Creek merged earlier this week, taking the fire to 28,000 hectares at last report. The area is on evacuation order and 27 structures have been affected, according to the BC Wildfire Service. Telegraph Creek is in the heart of Tahltan traditional territory. The main reserves of the Tahltan First Nation are located in Telegraph Creek and according to the Tahltan Band Council website, the town is home to around 400 residents, of which approximately 350 are of Tahltan ancestry.
In its news release, the Tsilhqot’in Nation says it has sent its local wildfire experts to support the Tahltan communities. These experts have knowledge and experience gained after the 2017 wildfires, which raged in Tsilhqot’in territory. The Nation has also sent gifts of salmon to support families in the area.
“We want to take this time to acknowledge the pain and trauma that those Northern B.C. communities are experiencing due to wildfires. This is a time for all Nations, and all levels of government, to work together and ensure Telegraph Creek and surrounding communities are given all of our full support, says Chief Joe Alphonse, tribal chairman of the Tsilhqot’in National Government.
“Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) also needs ensure that any burdens on the community are eased and adequate support is provided. We also remind the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) to establish an Emergency Response Team as we have recommended to do so one year ago. This wildfire situation reminds us that there is an alternative process that needs to be established that allows First Nations to take care of one another. Our communities are unique, meaning that we need unique solutions. We can only expect more wildfire situations like this in the future.”
Chief Russell Myers Ross, the vice-chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government, says the fires can take an enormous emotional toll on those affected, in addition to the impact on the land and animals.
“While still feeling the effects of last year, in recovery and healing, we send our deepest condolences to the families of Telegraph Creek and neighbours in the surrounding area,” he says.