Jennifer Good, Associate Professor of Communication, Popular Culture and Film at Brock University, and Nick Stanger, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University, recently co-wrote a piece in The Vancouver Sun about the community of Lytton, B.C.
“This summer’s fire season started early in B.C., and as hundreds of wildfires continue to blaze, now Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario are also experiencing widespread fires. The fires are responsible for the charred remains of hundreds of thousands of hectares, as well as widespread fear and community devastation. But it is Lytton that has become emblematic of the fires’ horrors and terrible inequity.
Within days of each other, Lytton recorded the highest-ever Canadian temperature, 49.5 degrees C, and then was devastated by a forest fire that swept through the community, killing two people and destroying 90 per cent of the town. From far away, we have watched the climate nightmare unfolding, and our hearts are heavy thinking about our friends fleeing the fire with little to no warning, and very little support.
Through working with Indigenous and settler students as environmental educators in the Stein Valley, we learned that Lytton is a nexus of history, particularly from a First Nations perspective. The iridescent blue Thompson River, cold mountain Stein River, and nutrient-rich Fraser River intersect right at the village. This is the home of the Nłeʔkepmxcín-speaking peoples, who have lived, worked, played, and practised ceremony there since time immemorial. Many hardships have been felt in Lytton over the years: residential schools, excessive resource extraction, flooding and forest fires. Yet the people of Lytton are strong, as shown by the conservation campaign that started in 1985 to save the Stein Valley, and their rich language revitalization and resurgence programs.”
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