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Newborn baby girl thriving says Esket evacuee mom

Carmen Dennis of Esket First Nation left her community because she was due to have a baby. Eleven days later she gave birth in Kamloops.

The late and former Esket First Nation Chief Andy Chelsea has a new great granddaughter named after him born after her mother evacuated from the community because of the wildfires in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

Last week Carmen Dennis gave birth to her daughter Andi Aria Rain Dennis in Kamloops.

Andi arrived weighing eight pounds and seven ounces at 4:32 a.m. on Friday, July 21 at Royal Inland Hospital.

Carmen was due on July 13, but said Andi waited until they were safe and sound.

Andi also waited until her dad William Dennis could get there.

He is part of a five-man firefighting crew with Alkali Resource Management (ARM) and was tasked to the Spokin Lake Road fire east of Williams Lake on Friday, July 8.

Originally Carmen went into Williams Lake to Cariboo Memorial Hospital on Sunday, July 9.

The emergency department was open and the maternity ward, but because Carmen was not in active labour she was advised to go to Prince George or Kamloops.

She chose Kamloops because her sister lives there, so on Monday, July 10 she left the community with her mom and grandma.

Highway 97 was closed going south so they drove the back route through Dog Creek along some pretty bumpy roads and arrived in Kamloops five and half hours later.

Andi is thriving and “just perfect,” said Carmen Thursday, adding she is recuperating too.

“We had just moved back to Alkali in May from Kelowna so it’s been a bit crazy,” she added. “We were evacuated because the Hanceville-Riske Creek wildfire is across the Fraser River from our community and it is a big one.”

For William, who is originally from Moricetown, his foray into firefighting has been intense, he admitted.

“We put in long hours. My crew was one of the first crews called into the Spokin Lake fire so we were doing some initial attack and mop up.”

Andi’s great grandfather Andy Chelsea and her great grandmother Phyllis Chelsea worked diligently to implement steps to change the course of their community in the 1970s to help residents become alcohol-free through traditional spirituality and job creation.

He passed away June 27 of this year.

Interior Health confirmed a total of two babies were born in Kamloops from evacuated communities in and around Williams Lake, while Northern Health said 10 babies were born from evacuated communities - one in Quesnel and nine in Prince George.

Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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