What started as a two-hectare wildfire in an area west of 100 Mile House, British Columbia (B.C.) grew over the summer to more than 1,000 fires throughout the province.
The fires scorched 1.2 million hectares, leading to a provincial state of emergency and the eventual evacuation of more than 40,000 people.
The news spread just as fast and many responded in true Canadian fashion - by offering assistance. When our staff heard that eight of seventeen Secwepemc First Nations communities were directly impacted, naturally, they stepped up to help.
Christine Thompson, Aboriginal Community Parole Officer from the Kamloops Parole Office and Dan Jack, Acting Manager, Aboriginal Relations from Kwìkwèxwelhp Healing Village (KHV) got to work collecting donations.
Employees from KHV made donations of blankets, medicine bags, drums, canning supplies and food. Canning supplies were needed as the First Nations residents were unable to harvest traditional food, salmon and berries.
The donations were driven north to a Secwepemc gathering in Enderby, B.C. where a traditional giveaway ceremony took place in August.
“The ceremony was one of the most powerful ceremonies that I have attended in a long time,” says Elder Ralph McBryan. “The emotional impact for those receiving the donations and those witnessing the ceremony was incredible. You could tell the items collected were done with so much love and care.”
In addition to this act of kindness, Reg Aymotte, a correctional officer at KHV, and his wife Diane, had donated a load of hay to some fellow horse farmers in Barriere, B.C. They talked about their donation on their Facebook pages and it wasn’t long before friends and strangers came forward wanting to help as well - some of whom were current and former colleagues at CSC.
In a seven-day period, they were able to make five trips to Kamloops and surrounding areas, donating about 500 bales of hay, three loads of clothing and food (for humans and animals!), bedding, and toys.
Reg says the good deeds were contagious – his mechanic offered him an oil change free of charge after making the deliveries and accumulating more than 5,000 kilometers on his truck.
“We had no idea that wanting to help others in a terrible situation would create such a chain reaction of kindness. We had a very small part in the overall assistance that was needed for the devastation that still continues to this day,” says Reg.
After Reg and Diane helped relocate four horses from a ranch to Barriere, they had to sleep in their truck overnight because the roads were closed to allow for the evacuation of residents in Williams Lake, B.C.
“It has truly been a humbling experience, one that my wife and I will always remember,” says Reg. “Not to mention the new friendships that we have developed because of it.”
CSC has some very community-minded folks on staff – and we’re proud to call them our colleagues! Thank you for sharing these stories with us.