“People literally ran,” from the June 2021 wildfire that almost destroyed the village of Lytton and dozens of homes in Lytton First Nation, said Mayor Jan Polderman. For many folks, there was barely any time to plan ahead or pack a bag. Two people were killed and the fire caused an estimated $102 million in insured damages.
Climate disasters are not new, but they could become more frequent. This year alone, B.C. faced extreme flooding, challenging forest fires and deadly heat.
In my role as a contributing reporter to The Tyee, I am grateful to have been awarded the first ever Lieutenant Governor’s BC Journalism Fellowship. The $25,000 grant aims to, “enable journalists to go above and beyond their typical level of coverage so that many of the crucial challenges we face today are no longer underreported and receive deep, complex storytelling to better inform the citizens of British Columbia.”
We’re using that support to do in-depth reporting about people who have been displaced by climate disasters or who work in disaster relief across the province. If that sounds like you, we’d like to speak with you. The conversation doesn’t have to be a formal interview at the outset, and if we proceed to that level you can set the ground rules regarding whether and how we identify you. We just want to hear your story and insights.
Our project keys off some basic facts. Thousands of people within British Columbia are being forced to flee from their communities each year because of disasters. Canada is warming at double the rate of the rest of the world and as the climate crisis worsens, communities across the country will be increasingly threatened by rising sea levels, wildfires and floods, according to a 2019 report led by the federal government.
And thanks to the creation of a new fellowship by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin, the Government House Foundation and the Jack Webster Foundation, we at The Tyee can take on a project we’ve been itching to pursue.
At the heart of this critical issue with immense implications are the folks caught up in it, trying to cope and finding solutions.
If you have been forced out of your home, business or community because of a disaster or work in disaster relief, we want to hear from you.
Please email me, reporter Francesca Fionda, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your experiences and ideas are what will drive this investigation.