Tarah Thomas is devastated after much of the town where she grew up burned to the ground last week.
Thomas is member of the Lytton First Nation and has been a teacher for Cowichan Tribes for the past 14 years.
She said dozens of members of her mother’s family, including uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces, as well as many other members of the community in Lytton, had to evacuate their homes in the small town when the wildfires quickly tore through the community with only what they could grab or what they had on their backs.
Thomas said many of her relatives had to temporarily relocate mostly to First Nations’ homes in other communities, including Merritt, Kamloops, Hope, Aggasiz, Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley.
“They don’t know when they will get to return to Lytton and most don’t know the condition of their homes,” she said.
“They can’t go back because there’s no water, sewer or hydro there right now, even if their homes are still standing. It’s anticipated that they may not return until as late as October.”
Thomas said she has set up a GoFundMe page to help the many members of her displaced family buy necessities, like food and clothing, that will help them get through this turbulent time.
She is hoping to raise $5,000, and had raised $450 of the goal as of July 8.
“This would help provide some sort of normalcy for them under very difficult circumstances as they live in uncertainty of not knowing when they can go home or if they have a home to go to,” Thomas said.
“The funds will go directly to families in need.”
The GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/help-lytton-families.
Thomas said she has gone back to Lytton once or twice a year to visit since she moved to the Cowichan Valley, and had intended to drive there this month, but those plans have changed after the fire.
“I’ll go wherever my family is set up,” she said.