Fire destroyed a home at Sugar Cane, south of Williams Lake, Saturday, Feb. 11. (Photo submitted)

Fire destroyed a home at Sugar Cane, south of Williams Lake, Saturday, Feb. 11. (Photo submitted)

First Nations family loses home, carving shed, in fire near Williams Lake

The fire started in the carving shed, spread to home at Williams Lake First Nation

A family living in the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) community of Sugar Cane lost everything to a fire on Saturday, Feb. 11.

“The family awoke startled to find their home on fire stemming from an art carving shed located beside their home,” said April Thomas on behalf of the family.

Charles Joseph, a renown west coast Kwakwaka’wakw artist and carver known for making masks, totem poles, and canoes, lived in the home along with his children James, 19, Jacob, 7, Rain, 6, and Jordan, 5, she noted.

“Charles, being an artist lost a totem pole almost ready for sale, many carvings and paintings ready for sale, his art work shed, along with all of his tools and supplies he uses to create his art.”

The family was in the process of renovating the home.

They were about halfway completed the inside and outside, and had recently purchased new appliances and a water tank.

They lost furniture, clothes, toys and personal belongings, and Charles lost his phone.

April’s mother Mary Thomas was in the process of moving out of the home for Joseph and his family to take it over and due to the fire lost much of her personal and sentimental belongings, including a vast and exquisite art collection from famous artists around the world.

“This is a tragedy on top of a tragedy as the family has just recently lost Frankie Thomas, their wife, daughter and mother on Jan. 9, 2023. And to make matter worse the house was not insured,” April said.

Many people been reaching out asking how they can help, April said noting the family can use items such as furniture – beds, dressers, night stands, couch and table set, dishes, pots and pans, eating wear, blankets, sheets, pillows, and towels, tools that can be used for art or carpentry, and gift cards for be food and tools would be greatly appreciated.

A crowd fundraiser has been set up for the family.

April thanked WLFN for offering a rental unit to the family until their new home is built and for all their support given to the family.

She also thanked the 150 Mile and Sugar Cane fire departments who she said were quick to respond and the community who were there on the scene and after to support the family as they endured this crisis.

“All the love, generosity and support is greatly appreciated as the family has endured so much these past couple months and years. Kukstsetsemc – thank you again.”

For further information or if you would like to donate please contact April at 778-267-6619, or email/etransfer

READ MORE: Internationally acclaimed First Nation carver Charles Joseph joins 4 Directions Festival

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