By Chief Russell Myers Ross:
Imagine you have an evacuation order placed on your community. Fires are raging in the heat and there is no expectation of rain for two weeks. The fires are surrounding your community on the west and east. As a leader, you are trying your best to ensure people are safe and that you can support your own fire crews with communication and by transporting equipment and supplies.
Couple it with multiple fires. The whole Tsilhqot’in Nation is aflame. Road closure is frequent in all directions. Electrical power is cut off daily. Then Williams Lake, central for supplies and where a temporary office is located, has to disband as the city is ordered evacuated.
The Tsilhqot’in National Government office is shut down. Staff retreat to Kamloops and disperse elsewhere. Then the wind turns and begins burning the south side of the community. This is what Yunesit’in has had to deal with since July 7.
And on top of all of this, on the eve of a government transition and swearing-in ceremony for the NDP, the outgoing B.C. government grants a permit to Taseko Mines Ltd. to conduct a massive drilling program.