What remains of Tahltan Village near Telegraph Creek. (Jane Philpott Facebook photo)

Telegraph Creek evacuees to start returning home next week

Area residents, who evacuated in August due to wildfires, will be able to return starting Nov. 15

Telegraph Creek evacuees will be allowed to return home starting next week, three months after wildfires tore through the area and forced residents of the community and surrounding area to flee.

The Tahltan Band Council made the announcement in a press release Nov. 5.

The plan is to have evacuees begin to return starting Nov. 15 with the hope of having everyone back home by Dec. 20, Tahltan Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) director and recovery manager Feddie Louie said in the press release.

“The EOC has been working tirelessly to make a return to Telegraph Creek possible,” Louie said. “… The specific return date will depend on when each home has been cleaned of smoke damage and refurbished.”

Telegraph Creek residents as well as residents from nearby communities have been displaced since early August, when authorities in British Columbia issued an evacuation order as wildfires burned dangerously nearby.

The massive blaze would end up growing to 120,000 hectares in size, destroying 27 buildings in Telegraph Creek including 21 homes, two businesses, a daycare and a church. In total, more than 160 structures have been lost in the area, including fish camps, historical sites, grave sites and seasonal cottages.

Following a visit to Tahltan territory in October, federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott wrote on Facebook that Tahltan Nation had “incurred the worst structural damage caused by wildfires of any First Nations community in recorded Canadian history.”

Yukoners have been rallying to support evacuees, with community members holding donation drives to gather clothing, supplies and food for residents awaiting the evacuation order to be lifted. In September, two nights of “Tahltan Strong” fundraising concerts in Whitehorse raised more than $86,000 in support for recovery efforts.

The Nov. 5 press release said that Tahltan Band Chief Rick McLean was “overwhelmed with gratitude for the support the Tahltan Nation has received.”

“One of the things that I have learned is that you really see the true colours of people during a crisis. I am overwhelmed by the love and support the Tahltan Nation has received,” he said. “Thank you to all volunteers, donors and to those who have assisted.”

McLean also thanked Philpott and the federal government for their support.

“We genuinely appreciate the Minister’s effort to come to our territory and visit Telegraph Creek to witness the devastation first hand,” he said. “It really wouldn’t have been possible to begin re-entry on (Nov. 15) without our partnership with the Federal Government, who really stepped up to help meet our communities needs and get our people home as soon as possible.”

In the press release, Philpott said it was “wonderful news” that residents will be able to return home soon.

“Chief Rick McLean and his team have shown remarkable leadership in the face of this tragedy and our government continues to actively support the community in their recovery and rebuilding,” she said. “Today’s news is another testament to the strength and resilience of the Tahltan people.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Telegraph Creek

Just Posted

Northwestel says it is investigating into the cause of the total communications blackout throughout the territory after a power failure in Whitehorse on Wednesday night.
Internet outage prompts criticism on Dempster fibre project delays

The Liberals responded that they have proceeded cautiously to avoid high costs.

A motorcycle with driver pulled over on the right side of the North Klondike Highway whose speed was locked in at 171 kilometres per hour. (Courtesy/Yukon RCMP)
Patrols of Yukon highways find poorly-secured loads, intoxicated drivers

The ongoing patrols which police call ‘Operation Cooridor’ is mainly focused on commercial vehicles.

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

More than 25,000 people have received the firsdt dose of the vaccine, according to the Yukon government. (Black Press file)
Yukon has now vaccinated 76 per cent of eligible adults

The territory has surpassed its goal of 75 per cent as a first step toward ‘herd immunity’

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Most Read