Search and rescue volunteers fill grocery list for self-isolating families in Chilcotin

·2 min read

It wasn’t the typical call for service Central Cariboo Search and Rescue (CCSAR) members are accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean it was any less important.

Late Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 27) CCSAR Chief Rick White pushed a grocery shopping car while scanning the aisles of a Williams Lake grocery store and checking off a list for a Yunesit’in First Nation (Stone) household.

White was joined by at least 10 other members who also each filled a shopping cart of items from a list.

“It’s really neat to help out,” White said.

“Dr. Bonnie Henry said to stay safe and be kind, and this is something different for search and rescue.”

The idea of CCSAR lending a helping hand to the locked-down Tsilhqot’in community 90 kilometers west of Williams Lake follows a conversation member Dawn Unruh had with member and Yunesit’in band manager, Dwayne Emmerson who mentioned how swept off his feet he had been.

“Supplies were dwindling and he didn’t know what the heck to do,” White explained.

“Unruh suggested that maybe this is something we can help out on, so they talked a bit, Dawn talked to me, and I ran it through the Cariboo Regional District.”

One or two members would often volunteer to shop for the 52 on-reserve households compromised of 273 members.

Through the efforts of CCSAR, a total of 20 households had received groceries later that evening.

Contact between the dedicated group of volunteers and First Nation was limited as the groceries were unloaded from several CCSAR vehicles into Yunesit’in vehicles before the Taseko Lake Road checkpoint.

Before the remote community west of Williams Lake entered lockdown earlier this month, Chief Lennon Solomon said there had been 17 positive COVID-19 cases.

As of Jan. 26, a total of eight people had recovered.

CCSAR plans to volunteer to shop again for Yunesit’in on Feb. 3.

“I saw this during the fires —Williams Lake is a community that really cares about one another,” Emmerson said.

“So if it wasn’t for CCSAR, I’m sure another group would have volunteered.”

Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune