Mining companies are opening their wallets to help Telegraph Creek residents rebuild their community after it was hit hard by wildfires this summer.
Skeena Resources established the fund with a $25,000 seed donation. Vice president of sustainability, Justin Himmelright, says the fund will stay active for as long as it takes to reach the quarter-million goal.
“The news cycle was all over Telegraph Creek during the fires and the evacuation, but I feel it’s really important to keep people’s attention on it,” he says. “A lot of the hard work is happening now.
“I think it’s appropriate for us, as industry players, to try to sustain our efforts in helping them out.”
Tahltan Band council Chief Rick McLean says the mining sector, which is critical in the Tahltan economy, has been offering support since the fires first took hold.
“They’ve been calling and asking how they can help from the beginning,” he says. “And now over and above that, they’re giving money to this fund,” he says. “For companies that work in our territories to be there all the way through, we’re very pleased they could step up and help. I’m very appreciative.”
McLean adds many Tahltan members were given time off if requested to fight the wildfire and again to help in the recovery process.
The fund was established to help replace tools, materials and machines necessary for people’s livelihoods; replace household contents not covered by insurance; and restore public spaces and landscaping destroyed by fire.
McLean expects as much as $30,000 more to be donated to the fund within the next few days, but says it’s still too early to know where exactly the money will be channeled.
“We don’t know really where our shortfalls are just yet, but we will make that decision once we know the final recovery costs and bills, and what needs to be covered, and hopefully there’s a significant amount left to go toward the rebuild phase of the community once we have everybody home.”
Crews are still in the recovery phase, repairing infrastructure and refurbishing homes severely damaged by smoke and water.
Thirty-one structures are complete and ready for occupation with completion of the remainder planned for Dec 21.
Eight modular units have also been brought in for temporary housing during the rebuild.
“We’ve got everybody accounted for with a place to stay,” McLean says. “So that’s good—the full focus now is to just get everybody home and then the rebuild in January.”
Separate fundraisers under the Tahltan Strong banner have generated more than $80,000 for rebuilding efforts. The spending of that money too will be decided on at a later date.
A celebration in honour of public donors will be held in Telegraph Creek on the August 2019 long weekend.
“The support from the public has been amazing, and we’re so grateful and blessed,” McLean says. “We got a lot of planning yet to get to our celebration in August, but we hope people will come out so we can thank them the right way.”
To donate to the building fund, visit telegraphcreekrebuildingfund.com.