August 9, 2018
By Janice Biehn
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund has today announced an emergency grant of $5,000 to the Diocese of the Yukon to support the community of Telegraph Creek in northern British Columbia, hard hit by wildfires. It is approximately 760 km south of Whitehorse, YT.
Fire has destroyed at least 27 buildings, including the Roman Catholic Church of St. Theresa and its rectory, said Bishop Larry Robertson. He estimated about 500 to 700 people live in the town and surrounding area. Most are from the Tahltan First Nation. “The fire has been devastating,” he said. “Everyone has been displaced and evacuated to Dease Lake.” However, the fire is moving towards Dease Lake he noted, so there is additional anxiety and fear over what’s next.
St. Aidan’s Anglican Church and its rectory sit at the foot of the hill in Telegraph Creek. The Diocese has been actively searching for a minister of presence to volunteer his or her time there, said Bishop Robertson. “Now more than ever that person is needed.” At publication time, the Diocese did not know the status of the small, 100-year-old wooden church.
“We so very much appreciate the response of PWRDF to this crisis in Telegraph Creek,” said the Venerable Sarah Usher, Executive Archdeacon of the Diocese. “We are still waiting to hear whether or not our structures have been destroyed or remain standing. We know that the people of Telegraph Creek will appreciate anything that can be sent to them at this stage.”
Usher was recently in the nearby community of Teslin where community volunteers loaded up an outreach van with supplies. The thrift store at St. Philip’s Anglican Church also contributed clothing. “I know that other First Nations Offices from neighbouring communities have been sending relief supplies to them also. There are a number of fundraisers that have also been started in Yukon. I have emailed the Chief of the Tahltan Band Council and am awaiting his reply but understandably don’t expect anything for a few days. I know he is busy and exhausted at this point.”
Please keep the people and parishes of Telegraph Creek in your prayers. To donate to this emergency response, go to pwrdf.org/donate and indicate Telegraph Creek in the message box.