Donnie Creek wildfire burns through cultural heritage of three First Nations

By Derrick Penner
Vancouver Sun
July 6, 2023
Category: Forest Fires
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Blueberry River First Nations had just started working to rehabilitate swaths of their territory north of Fort St. John from decades of industrial development before the Donnie Creek wildfire sparked by lightning sometime around May 12. Now, Blueberry River Chief Judy Desjarlais is unsure exactly how much of that land is engulfed by a fire that has grown to more than 5,700 square kilometres, almost twice the size of Metro Vancouver. “It felt like this was just kicking us while we were down,” Desjarlais said. “We were just going to get up, and then we were hit again.” The Donnie Creek blaze is officially B.C.’s biggest-ever forest fire and is consuming more than industry-altering amounts of timber. The land is also the traditional territory of the Blueberry River, Prophet River and Doig River First Nations. Desjarlais said elders are watching nervously as important cultural resources are being burned over.

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