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Shuswap band ceremony to mark opening of subdivision built after wildfire

31 homes lost by Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw in Bush Creek East blaze
In November 2023, Kúkpi7 James Tomma surveys what’s left of his home after the Bush Creek East fire ripped through the community. (File photo)

More than 250 structures were lost in the Shuswap to the Bush Creek East wildfire, including 31 homes belonging to members of Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw.

Approximately nine months after the catastrophic blaze, the Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw/Little Shuswap Lake Band will be holding a ceremony for the opening of residences built, and being built, to replace what was lost.

The “Welcome Back” ceremony on April 24 will mark the opening of the first of four new subdivisions built subsequent to the August 2023 wildfire, explained Skwlāx communications director Larry Read.

The ceremony will be attended by Federal Indigenous Services Minister Patti Hajdu and various other First Nations and civic/federal politicians, said Read in an email.

In November 2023, among the wildfire-devastated remains of his own home, Ku̓kpi7 (Chief) James Tomma said approximately 80 of the 390 band members were affected by the structure losses.

“We lost everything… but after that, we looked for the small victories,” said Tomma. “We celebrate what we have, not what we lost.”

Read more: Skwlāx te Secwepemcúlecw: ‘We celebrate what we have, not what we lost’

Read more: B.C. to open first-of-its-kind wildfire training, education centre in Kamloops