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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

After the Fire


I'm currently hanging out on my tradish Tsilhqot'in territory at my families homestead on the Anaham reserve. I haven't been up here in 2 years because when we were suppose to go last year the territory was on fire. So this is the first time that I've seen first hand the destruction the fires had.

Driving up from Williams Lake was pretty shocking. I've been doing that drive since I can remember, I've spent almost every summer up here as a kid and I try to get here at least once a year to recharge and listen to the land.

The destruction of the trees is immense, the lush and beautiful forests now look like a collection of burnt matchsticks. The soil is now charred and black.

We've been quadding in the back country foraging and following the fire guards that the community made themselves because the Ministry of Forests, Land and Resources abandoned the Tsilhqot'in people last year - they abandoned my people to let the houses burn.

The fire was surrounding the community, jumping rivers, ferociously firing down the mountain on the backs of houses and the Tsilhqot'in people protected ourselves. You can read more about the defence in this article by the National Observer, we've been called "The Wildfire Warriors."

It is fascinating to look at it all now because in one way we lost the trees and vegetation but in other ways, I'm seeing the land, the soil and the range in a way that was impossible before. There is a fire guard in the back field that the bears now walk, there is an abundance of wild onions and morel's that we can eat and we're all learning how to live with the way the land is now.

The transformation that fire creates is remarkable. I spend every evening around one and I listen to the stories, feed off the warmth of the flames and am grateful for the gatherings we create. One year ago the whole territory was embraced by the fires and now here after, we are forever changed by it.

Now I'm off to the dump to try and find a bear.

With love and a full spirit,

kim