Wendy Thompson, left, and her daughters Hailey, centre, and Josie, were three of 19 people from Dididaht First Nation who celebrated Christmas in their room at the Tyee Village Motel. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Wendy Thompson, left, and her daughters Hailey, centre, and Josie, were three of 19 people from Dididaht First Nation who celebrated Christmas in their room at the Tyee Village Motel. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Dididaht First Nation family loses winter food stores in power outage

Nearly 30 families from isolated First Nation displaced due to massive windstorm

Families from the Dididaht First Nation are facing critical food losses in the wake of a long power outage over the Christmas holiday.

Wendy Thompson is a mother of seven, and broke down at the knowledge that she has lost an estimated $1,000 worth of food in her refrigerator and deep freeze because the power has been off since a windstorm whipped through southwestern BC and Vancouver Island on Dec. 20.

Thompson is one of about 30 families from the Dididaht displaced due to the power outage. Families have been housed in motels and hotels in Port Alberni for the past few days. Thompson estimates seven families remained behind, as they had generators.

“I lost everything. Everything in my house. I had more than $1,000 of food in my house, for Christmas and just to live,” she said. “I’m starting all over again.”

Monday was a difficult day, knowing Christmas was coming and they weren’t at home. “I’m trying not to show my emotions to my kids,” she said. “I’m trying to be happy.”

This is the second time in 10 years that the Thompson family and other Dididaht have lost so much due to a storm. A decade ago their power went out for nearly three weeks and there was flooding as well. No one was reimbursed for their losses.

“The same thing is happening. I have family members who have lost everything. I’m not the only person who has lost everything,” Thompson said. “Everyone who has lost everything has worked really hard to buy their food; our traditional salmon we’ve lost. That’s our winter food.”

After the power went out on Dec. 20 Thompson was able to pack some clothing—in the dark—so they could evacuate to Port Alberni. They don’t have a generator in their home to maintain power for some appliances.

Thompson works at the Dididaht Community School and is off until kids go back to school the first week of January. Her spouse will be collecting EI, but it hasn’t kicked in yet. Although they have three adult children, Thompson still has kids aged 16, 14, two 10-year-old twins and a five-year-old grandson who live with her.

Thompson had 19 people in her small room at the Tyee Village Motel to celebrate Christmas. Between her and her grandmother, they have 13 people staying in two rooms. “We made do,” she said.

“It’s hard living out of a motel, especially at Christmas. We’re just living motel life—cards and watching movies.”

Her parents, who are 71 and 72 years old respectively, had a generator but decided on Christmas Eve to turn them off and join the family. Another Dididaht resident, Crystal Amos, said people who were left behind were running out of fuel for their generators. Amos had collected donations and bought jerry cans to send back with a band councillor to help those families who stayed behind.

RELATED: Bamfield, Dididaht, some Sproat Lake areas still without power

Thompson said they received emergency social services help on Wednesday, Dec. 26 which allowed them to extend their stay at the motel and included restaurant and food vouchers.

BC Hydro crews worked through their holiday to help restore power. Numerous other agencies, such as Mainroad Contracting, independent tree service contractors, restaurants, municipal personnel and others have also worked to assist people who have been affected by the storm.

BC Hydro announced at 3 p.m. on Boxing Day that power had been restored to 99 percent of customers, and expects to have the remaining 6,500 customers without power restored by Dec. 31. They had nearly 120 crews working on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands working on Dec. 26. “The vast majority of customers on Vancouver Island will be restored by Dec. 27 with the exception of Bamfield, which will be restored by Dec. 28,” a BC Hydro spokesperson said.

“The damage in Bamfield is some of the most severe on the Island and portions of the distribution system are being rebuilt.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is calling on Transport Canada to rescind its ban to Feb. 28, 2022 on cruise ship stops in Canada, to allow planning to begin in advance of a reopening of the cruise industry next year.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO hopes cruises will resume by 2022

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

A 30x40 ft boat/car shop in the Little River area near Wilkinson Road was fully involved by the time firefighters arrived on scene. Photo by Comox Fire Rescue
Comox firefighters battle ‘showy’ shop fire Saturday night

Smoke could be seen throughout the Comox Valley

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Port Hardy cancels Canada Day celebrations in wake of Kamloops mass grave site revelation

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read