When the village of Lytton, B.C,. was nearly destroyed by wildfires in mid-August, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C. was among those that moved to help. This is one of more than 260 fires in the province this summer that have burned 650,000 hectares, with hot temperatures, dry conditions and high winds exacerbating the situation.
Lytton has a population of just 250, with about 1,000 living in the surrounding First Nation community. The Lytton Creek fire started just south of the Village of Lytton on July 30, destroying 90 percent of the town.
MCC B.C. reports that its Indigenous Neighbours Program coordinator, Bridget Findlay, reached out to one of the coordinators at the cultural welcoming centre located at the Shxwhá:y Village longhouse. This centre has been set up jointly by the emergency management teams of Skwah village and the chief and council of the Shxwhá:y Village First Nation. The centre is providing meals to evacuees, firefighters and other wildfire evacuee donation centres that call them for supplies.
Mennonite Disaster Service in B.C. is in contact with MCC B.C. and others about possible responses, says Mark Rempel of MDS: “It’s very early days for us in terms of knowing what MDS can do. We are willing to assist if requested.”
A July 1 satellite image of the forest fire that destroyed much of the village of Lytton, B.C., this summer. (Antti Lipponen image / Creative Commons Licence (http://bit.ly/cclicence2-0))