For Release:  Wednesday, April 24, 2024 

Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw (Chase, BC)—Just eight months after seeing their homes destroyed by the Bush Creek East wildfire, members of the Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw band celebrated a significant achievement in its rebuilding process.

Members of the band were joined by visiting dignitaries including Federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu for the unveiling of the “Dancing Fawn II” subdivision.  Dancing Fawn II is one of four subdivisions to spring up in the wake of the loss of 34 homes being destroyed by the August 18, 2023, wildfire. 11 homes have been built for this subdivision by Freeport Industries (Kelowna, BC) and Paradigm (North Thompson, BC).

“This is a very special day for our band members,” says Kukpi7 Jamie Tomma. “The wildfire has put a lot of stress on all of us.  I remember seeing Dawning Fawn II being built and stopping by to check on its progress a few months ago. It was at a time when I felt a lot of weight on my shoulders blaming myself for this even though I knew the wildfire was beyond my control.  I went home to my wife Jay, and she remarked on how big my smile was.  I couldn’t help it. I was happy that our people were going to be able to return home soon. This is the start of a great rebuild for our entire band both physically and mentally.  We are doing good work here. As Kukpi7, we would thank everyone: from band members from the Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw, to neighboring bands (Adams Lake, Neskonlith, and T’kumlups te Secwepemc), our community neighbors, staff members and the Federal Government for assisting us during this crisis.”

“Last year was the most devastating wildfire season on record, and the members of Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw experienced it firsthand,” states Minister of Indigenous Services, The Honorable Patty Hajdu, today thanks to the incredible work by their leaders, and because of their strength and determination, they will soon be able to return to the community. We will be at the community’s side every step of the way to support recovery, and to help build their capacity and infrastructure in a self-determinate way.”

Construction of the subdivision, design support and constructability and construction management services have all been provided by Skwlāx Resource Management (SRM), a band owned company. It is a 100% Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw owned company which always maintains at least 50% Indigenous employment and 30% local band member employment.

“The entire team at SRM has really stepped up with this project and shown incredible determination, pride and an inherent responsibility to support the community’s recovery,” stated Trevor Delorey, SRM’s Management CEO.  “It is very humbling to be a part of.”

SRM started with a team of three in 2021.

“Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw leadership’s consistent support enabled us to grow into an organization of over 60, “Delorey adds.  “We are ready and eager to answer this call to task, hoping to provide some solace and a silver lining through the impacts and loss of this devastating event.”

The ‘Welcome Home’ event included a cultural component featuring a drum circle and prayer.  Dignitaries included Kukpi7’s from neighboring bands: Adams Lake (Lynn Kanoras-Duckchief),and Neskonlith (Ivan Wai) and  various civic and regional politicians.

Delegates took a tour of the wildfire affected areas and the “Rapid Housing” units at Dancing Fawn II.   The other subdivisions will come online in the coming months.

 

For more information:

Jennifer Kozelj

Press Secretary
Office of the Honorable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor

Jennifer.Kozelj@sac-isc.gc.ca

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