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LETTER: Chief acknowledges all who came together at Skawahlook during storms

‘I raise my hands in thanks and respect to all people who assisted us’

I raise my hands in thanks and respect to all people who assisted us during the atmospheric rivers that have run through our lands over the past month.

I first want to acknowledge my brother, Brett, for being there to help the minute we opened our doors Sunday night and throughout. Thanks to Sharron Young, Director of Operations at Skawahlook, for being our representative on the daily calls with Emergency Management BC.

Other members of our team were unable to get to the hall as the highway was a parking lot in both directions. I acknowledge Tribal Chief Tyrone McNeil, Sto:lo Tribal Council President for being the first to reach out with a referral to Camp Hope for food, as we were cut off on both sides of Highway 7 by landslides.

Thanks to Alfie James of Shxw’ow’hamel for offering to include our food order with theirs, as it had to be flown into our communities. Thanks to Chief Rhoda Peters for facilitating food pickup from her community hall for us and also housing many stranded travellers in her community facility. The Teit Tribe stepped up - I am proud of everyone.

Thanks to all at Camp Hope who provided food and support as we were hosting 70 people in our hall, as well as providing coffee, tea and a meal to those just stopping in. Many thanks to the local RCMP detachments of Hope and Agassiz for being as present as they could be to ensure we were doing well, staying safe and providing current updates on the road conditions.

Continued prayers of protection for the front line workers who are out in all conditions to restore our power, clear the roads, deliver the food and care for us in hospitals and clinics. Thank you to the last 40 people that remained in our house at Skawahlook until Nov. 17, when they were provided a police escort west on Highway 7 and home. My guests and new friends kept the facility clean, took turns cooking meals and generally remained in their cohorts and were respectful to all present.

This was a life-changing experience. I have been asked a number of times to “share my story” but that will be at another time and in a different venue.

Chief Maureen Chapman - Skawahlook First Nation