The loss of homes, businesses, farms and equipment from the devastating White Rock Lake wildfire has sparked the need for recovery.
The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) is one of several communities that suffered mass destruction during, as the fire ravaged through thousands of square kilometres of land during July and August this year, and led to the long-term evacuation of over 1,000 residents on the Indian Reserve #1. While most have returned, there remains 35 people on the OKIB who never returned home. The fire destroyed lost their houses and they are waiting to rebuild.
“Many members of the public have reached out to us asking ‘How can I help,’” OKIB Chief Byron Louis said. “In response, we have launched a Go Fund Me campaign to help provide emergency relief for those directly affected by the 2021 White Rock Lake Wildfire.”
Along with the physical destruction, the fire has had untold mental health effects. Additionally, the community has suffered losses to land including watersheds, thousands of acres of forests, hunting grounds and ceremonial lands. Many of the losses are uninsured, and the cultural significance of many possessions are of immeasurable value.
“Thankfully, no lives were lost but the immense grief felt by our community will persist for decades to come,” the GoFundMe reads.
Many generous people have expressed interest in helping OKIB through this hardship, therefore the GoFundMe has been set up with the goal of raising at least $50,000. All proceeds will be used to provide direct benefits to OKIB members in the form of emergency relief for those directly affected by the wildfire. Those who would like to give can do so at gofund.me/1aa63b42
OKIB hopes to reach the goal by Nov. 13, 2021.