Climate Change Gets Real for Clean50 Nominee

By: The Clean50 Team, 2021

Kanaka Bar Chief Patrick Michell loses home to raging BC forest fire

Climate change has long been “real” to Chief Patrick – he’s spent much of his adult life leading the people of Kanaka Bar, and taking climate action has been a critical part of that leadership for decades. He has secured resources for his community that will prepare them for the climate crisis for the next 100 years including becoming energy self-sufficient, while being an activist to encourage provincial leaders to do the same. His presentation on sustainable self-sufficiency and climate change resilience can be viewed here on YouTube

So it seems particularly unfair that, when drastic climate effects come to call, that they would pick on one of the most sustainable communities in BC.

But that’s the reality. Climate change is most impacting those who had the least to do with causing it – whether on low-lying islands around the world – or on Indigenous lands in BC’s interior. This tragedy – and numerous others like it – are telling us we are out of time and need to take action now.  

The record-breaking heatwave in Western Canada this past week is said to have caused 719 sudden deaths, and the highest recorded temperature ever in Canada was in the town of Lytton at 46.9 C. Two days later, the town caught fire, and the incredibly dry conditions caused by a much drier than usual spring enabled the fire to consume 90% of the town in 20 minutes. This event has at this time seen two confirmed deaths and has caused more than 1,000 displacements. Even now, there are 208 fires still raging in BC. 

Kanaka Bar, home to Chief Michell and his family, just 15 kilometres South of Lytton, was engulfed in flames shortly after Lytton’s fire

Return to Kanaka Bar: Chief Patrick’s burnt out truck to the right of the returning visitor’s car.

“The clear and present danger, for all of us, continues to grow, right in front of us, despite my and others warnings,” Chief Michell stated. “It’s awful now that my family and I are a ground zero example. I’m uncertain whether Lytton’s story will galvanize the changes needed, but I’ll keep sharing in hopes that inspire and motivate individuals, families, communities, regions, Provinces, and Nations.” After his home, his belongings, and most of Kanaka Bar has been destroyed, Chief Michell still has hope for a better life and future for his children and his 16 grandchildren – and he continues to lead with hope.

Please consider donating to Chief Patrick Michell’s family here: Funds sent to Chief Michell’s fundraiser will directly help him, his family, and the people of Kanaka Bar.

To find out how to help other victims of B.C.’s wildfires, please visit: