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First Nations people say devastation from B.C. wildfires threatens cultural identity – CBC

Sep 06, 2023

Fires affecting access to traditional foods, medicines

Most of Mike McKenzie’s summers were spent hunting moose and deer out of his family’s camp near his community of Skeetchestn, near Kamloops, B.C.

But it’s been a long time since McKenzie has done this.

“It’s too dangerous,” said McKenzie, about record-breaking heat and longer, more intense fire seasons.

McKenzie has been displaced from his traditional territory since 2017, when the Elephant Hill wildfire burned nearly 192,000 hectares of Secwepemc land. Four years later the community was hit again by the Sparks Lake wildfire that burned about 68,500 hectares.

This year another series of wildfires has devastated the interior of B.C., disrupting fishing and hunting practices for many First Nations.

“When you’re facing this kind of heat, it gets very nerve-racking to go out there and actually hunt and do all the work you got to do knowing that a big fire could take out your camp or you could have to evacuate,” said McKenzie.

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