When Pretivm Resources Ltd. first announced they would be giving members of the Tahltan Nation $250,000 to help with wildfire recovery efforts in Telegraph Creek, audible gasps could be heard from across the room at the Association for Mineral Exploration’s 2019 Mineral Roundup in Vancouver.
“Everybody was pretty shocked and just very pleased. They were very emotional and humbled, just like the leadership, of this kind of contribution from the mining industry,” says Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government.
The donation from Pretivm, which owns the Brucejack gold mine about 400 kilometres south of Telegraph Creek, brings the total amount of donations raised to $500,000.
Day says the Tahltan band and its community members will work together to decide where the donations will be used as the Nation continues to rebuild from the destruction left from last year’s devastating wildfires.
“This company has been an excellent partner from the beginning and we look forward to working with them for decades to come. There is much work still to do in Telegraph Creek and their donation will go a long way to helping those who were affected,” says Day.
Last August, a massive 120,000-hectare wildfire rolled through the community of approximately 400 people, destroying 21 homes and damaging many others. More than 160 structures were destroyed in the region, including fish camps, historical sites, grave sites and seasonal cottages. No lives were lost in the blaze.
In November, residents began returning to the community after modular homes were brought in to create a new subdivision.
Crews are still in the recovery phase, repairing infrastructure, materials and machines necessary for people’s livelihoods, replacing household contents not covered by insurance, and restoring public spaces and landscaping destroyed by fire.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how things change as the seasons change, but the work is still ongoing and we’ll look to the Tahltan Band and to the community members of Telegraph Creek to set those priorities,” Day says.
About $12 million has been spent so far to clear debris, restore services and infrastructure, according to Freddie Louis, the community’s emergency operations director.
Canada’s minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott called the fire damage experienced by the Tahltan Nation as the worst of any First Nations community in Canadian history.
“It’s absolutely unheard of for a First Nations community, let alone one as isolated as us, to recover the way that we did after a disaster of that sort,” Day says.
“All the Tahltan entities, the province and our partners are going to continue to work with us to hopefully rebuild Telegraph Creek stronger than ever.”
—with files from Quinn Bender and the Canadian Press