At least ten families who lost their homes in the Lytton wildfire have ties to the community’s First Nations school.
For a variety of reasons, none had house insurance, and now the community is rallying to help them rebuild.
The fast-moving and destructive fire on June 30 left residents of Lytton with just minutes to escape.
“The burning flames were at our property and I was trying to let my honey know — it happened so quick,” Katrina Sam told Global News.
Sam’s husband Joseph was still hosing down his childhood home with water as she escaped, but when their dirt bikes started exploding, he too was forced to flee.
“We lost everything that my husband worked hard for,” she said.
Compounding the tragedy, Joseph Justice has been unable to work since he was diagnosed with Stage Four bone cancer, just one month before the village he grew up in was incinerated.
Hobby farmer Tricia Thorpe and Donald Glasgow lost livestock, their home and shop.
“Our animals all our animals. We left them all behind,” Glasgow said.
“It’s the animals that we’ve lost — I mean it’s heart wrenching. I feel like we failed them,” Thorpe added.
The couple turned to social media when access to check on their animals was denied in the days after. Firefighters eventually came to the rescue.
“It’s the individuals that got those animals out for us, it wasn’t government all we met was bureaucracy,” Thrope said.
Their remaining flock is now with friends, and in the sleepless nights since, they’ve realized what matters.
“I came up with three f’s: faith, family, friends that’s what’s important,” Glasgow said. “Material things they can be replaced.”
And they will be. The stein valley Nlakapamux school where Glasgow is a bus driver and Sam a pre-school teacher is fundraising to help families restore their lives.
“Everybody is really proud of the school so when we found out that the school was still there, it gave us a glimmer of hope,” school administrator Edith Loring-Kuhanga said.
She said the goal is now to rebuild the community around the institution.
“Together we’re strong, and you can’t let it bury you,” Thorpe said.
“You’ve got to move forward when you get knocked down you stand up again.”
A fundraising effort is now underway to support the five students and their families, four staff members and one board member who lost everything in the fire.
Anyone who wishes to donate can send an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org, and will receive a tax-deductible receipt.