In wake of devastating fire, Telegraph Creek reconstruction gets $250K boost

Rebuilding efforts in fire-ravaged Telegraph Creek, B.C., received a boost this week in the form of a hefty donation from a gold mining company. The cheque was presented to members of the Tahltan Nation at a mineral exploration conference in Vancouver.

Gold mining company more than doubles amount raised under banner of 'Tahltan Strong'

Rick McLean, centre, chief of the Tahtan Band, says the $250,000 will be used to help rebuild Telegraph Creek, which had dozens of structures destroyed in the Alkali Lake wildfire last summer. He is shown here accepting the donation from Pretium Resources Ltd in Vancouver. (Submitted by Tahltan Central Government)

A hefty donation from a gold mining company will help reconstruction efforts in fire-ravaged Telegraph Creek, B.C.

The president of Pretium Resources presented a $250,000 cheque to members of the Tahltan Nation at a mineral exploration conference in Vancouver this week. 

"It was an amazing gesture by a company that's working in Tahltan Territory and working closely with our government," said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government.

Pretium operates the Brucejack underground mine 65 kilometres north of Stewart, B.C. Day says the gold mine employs about 50 Tahltan people.

"We're really blessed to have some of those companies [operating in Tahltan Territory] step up in a big way," he said. 

Telegraph Creek, B.C. in November, three months after wildfire destroyed parts of the community. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Crews have been cleaning out smoke-damaged homes in Telegraph Creek since the Alkali Lake wildfire was extinguished and a 102-day evacuation order was lifted in November.

The wildfire destroyed more than 20 homes and dozens of other structures in and around the community including the daycare and a residence for nurses. 

Chad Norman Day, left, president of the Tahltan Central Government, with B.C. Premier John Horgan at the mineral conference in Vancouver. (Submitted by Tahltan Central Government)

Donations reach close to $500,000

Rick McLean, chief of the Tahltan Band, said a 100-person work camp will be leaving town in the coming month. It will be replaced this spring by a smaller crew to repair houses that were damaged but are still salvageable.

In the meantime, people who lost their homes are living in temporary housing and about 10 new mobile homes.

McLean says about $12 million has been spent so far to clean up the community and restore essential services and infrastructure. This includes fixing the reserve's water system which was contaminated during the wildfire.

McLean said Pretium's $250,000 helps bring the tally of donations to about a half-million dollars. McLean is pledging a community consultation to decide how the money can best be used. The community has a nursing station, school and store but it lacks a daycare and building to house language and cultural programs.  

While much work lies ahead, McLean says the community is grateful for all the support its received from donors and volunteers. 

With files from Philippe Morin

The chief of the Tahltan Band says clean up of Telegraph Creek is almost complete. The next stage is rebuilding. (Philippe Morin/CBC)