Wildfire Update (23 09 22)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Friday, September 22, 2023

Nourishing body, mind, soul in unsettled times

Unsettled weather is in the forecast for Sorrento and the surrounding region for the weekend and early next week, including clouds, patchy rain showers, cooling temperatures and even snow at higher elevations as the Bush Creek East wildfire continues to burn near the Sorrento Centre and our farm.

The 45,613 hectare wildfire is classified as out-of-control by BC Wildfire, though the fire perimeter has not grown in recent days. Helicopters dropping water on the wildfire continue to pass overhead, and firefighters are on the ground in nearby hills tackling hot spots. Our Centre remains under evacuation alert, which means we are ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.  

Here is the latest from BC Wildfire for Friday: “Although fall has arrived, nearby communities can still expect to see smoke within the perimeter over the coming weeks. This is common with large wildfires and will continue until significant rainfall or snowfall.”

Unsettled weather and an uncertain, and devastating, wildfire have prompted us to turn our thoughts and activities to healing and nourishing ourselves, our neighbours and our guests.

The Sorrento Centre has safely re-opened and welcomed several groups of overnight and day guests. We have day and multi-day events scheduled into the fall and winter. Please check www.sorrentocentre.ca as some events have been modified or postponed due to the wildfire.   

When the Bush Creek East wildfire roared through North Shuswap and then South Shuswap, swiftly moving more than 20k in less than 12 hours, our Centre was forced to evacuate almost 200 guests on Aug. 18, along with staff and neighbours. Eight days later, we were allowed to return.

More than 170 homes and other buildings have been destroyed by the wildfire in the North and South Shuswap. Lives and livelihoods of many of our neighbours have been severely disrupted. No lives were lost in the blaze.

At a climate action rally in Salmon Arm one week ago, Dr. Warren Bell (a co-founder of Canadian Physicians for the Environment) introduced us to a recent term: “Solastalgia”. In scientific literature, solastalgia is defined as “the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment.”

The environmental activist Glen Albrecht calls it “the homesickness you have when you are still at home”. For those of us who are living through the ongoing Bush Creek East wildfire, we see the home we have known around us radically changed. There is a sense of powerlessness in the face the extreme weather (drought and wildfire), and a yearning for the safety, comfort and homeliness we used to experience.

Our guests at the Sorrento Centre value the beauty and sense of home-coming that we seek to offer. In the coming days and weeks and months, we aspire to offer to our guests and our neighbours some healing from the trauma of the wildfire as well as helping to rebuild the sense of home that we treasure so much here in the Shuswap.

Nourishing body, mind and soul while bridging the deep alienation that has grown between humans and the rest of our natural world are urgent priorities. Part of that involves personal actions we can take, another part stretches to collective things we can do. And, of course, we need to advocate for climate action and climate justice even as we lament the wildfire.

The Sorrento Centre will continue to publish updates over the coming days.

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