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    Default Central Saanich longhouse destroyed after "massive" fire

    Little remains of Central Saanich longhouse after 'massive' fire
    By Matthew Pearson, Times Colonist
    July 18, 2009 6:20 PM
    Comments (7)
    StoryPhotos ( 2 )

    More Images » Smoke rises from the remains of long house on the East Saanich Tsawout reserve.

    Photograph by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist

    Ashes, crumpled steel and memories are all that remain of the Tsawout First Nation’s longhouse.

    The building, which has stood at the top of a small dirt road on the reserve near Saanichton Bay since 1986, went up in smoke Friday night in dramatic fashion.

    Dispatchers received reports of the fire from as far away as the Malahat, while traffic on the Pat Bay Highway slowed as some drivers gawked at the flames shooting at least 20 metres into the sky.

    By the time firefighters from Central Saanich, Sidney and North Saanich arrived on scene at about 9:30 p.m., the building was already fully engulfed by flames.

    “They were pretty massive flames,” said Eric King, who lives about a kilometre away on Lochside Drive.

    Grey smoke gave way to black smoke and soon the sky was filled with flames, he said, adding the fire died down in about 20 minutes.

    Stephen Horne had just returned from a birthday party when he went around to the back of his house, about 100 metres from the longhouse, and saw smoke coming out of the building.

    “The big house is on fire, the big house is on fire,” he yelled to his wife on the phone.

    Horne hung up, called 911 and ran toward the building, where he met his cousin Jason Pelkey.

    “We thought we heard some people in there, so we were going to check,” Horne said.

    As flames snaked across the roof of the building, Horne said he went to the kitchen door, pushed it open and was about to crawl inside when the force of the fire blew him back several metres.

    Horne, who said he also heard a loud bang and suspected there may have been an old propane tank inside the building, was pulled away by Pelkey and his nephew, Richie Horne.

    “All I could here was voices and it was just so dark and they were screaming and they dragged me down the road,” Horne said.

    He was treated at hospital for smoke inhalation and released several hours later. On Saturday, he nursed a sore hand and ankle at his house.

    Horne’s wife, Debbie Pelkey, is glad her husband only suffered bumps and bruises.

    “If it wasn’t for those two guys, he would have been demolished with that building,” said Pelkey, who was saddened by the loss of the longhouse.

    “We lost a sacred place,” she said, her eyes welling with tears. “That was part of our spirit and they took it away.”

    In the past, Horne said he has had to chase away people partying near the longhouse.

    He said he reported the incidents to the band office and noted a chain strung across the road leading up to the longhouse didn’t deter people from entering the area.

    The longhouse was the centre of the Tsawout community, said Eric Pelkey, leader of the longhouse committee. “We don’t know what we’re going to do now,” said Pelkey, who explained the longhouse, which could seat up to 1,000 people, was used for mask dance ceremonies, funerals, feasts and other community gatherings.

    Pelkey admitted there have been reports of people drinking around the longhouse in the past and noted the last time he visited the building about two weeks ago, a back door had been pried open.

    Replacing the longhouse could take several years and cost up to $500,000, he added.

    It took eight years for the band to replace the last longhouse after it was destroyed by fire in 1978.

    Tsawout chief Allan Claxton said the loss will affect his entire community.

    “It’s definitely a sad day,” he said. “A big piece of our community is gone.”

    The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but arson is not suspected, said Ron French, Central Saanich fire chief.

    mpearson@tc.canwest.com

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
    Your Comments
    vanisle
    July 18, 2009 - 5:06 PMFlag this as Inappropriate the taxpayer will build them a new one

    wayne
    July 18, 2009 - 4:38 PMFlag this as Inappropriate I guess the taxpayers are picking up the tab for this one too.

    Heather
    July 18, 2009 - 1:53 PMFlag this as Inappropriate We heard yelling and sreaming last night like somebody gotten the big touchdown .It sounded like they were enjoying it for twentyfive minutes before trucks showed up


    Bill
    July 18, 2009 - 1:49 PMFlag this as Inappropriate The natives are out of control in sydney ,how come the elders do nothing to try to control them ,How do you help them when they do stuff like this to themselves its just sad when they have so much culture and history to offer.


    Charlie
    July 18, 2009 - 1:39 PMFlag this as Inappropriate Last night my girlfriend and I heard cheering for 20 min before fire trucks showed up ,what was that about?And how come I cant drive to the store with out natives picking fights and shouting rude stuff .I am staying at oceanside rv and thinking of moving,and please clean up the broken beer bottles and puke off the road!!!!!!!

    Louisa(Jack)George
    July 18, 2009 - 12:49 PMFlag this as Inappropriate omg i can't beleive tsawout longhouse burnered right down it's sad when things like this happened to our culture's that's to bad for the people who who watch there bighouse go down so fast

    JJ
    July 18, 2009 - 10:13 AMFlag this as Inappropriate I hope no one was injured. What an awful thing to have happen.
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    Little remains of Central Saanich longhouse after 'massive' fire

    By Matthew Pearson, Times Colonist
    July 19, 2009 6:27 AM
    Comments (16)
    StoryPhotos ( 3 )

    More Images » The Tsawout First Nation's longhouse, destroyed by fire Friday night, was the centre of the community. "We don't know what we're going to do now," says Eric Pelkey, leader of the longhouse committee. > Photo gallery at timescolonist.com

    Photograph by: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist, Times Colonist

    Ashes, crumpled steel and memories are all that remain of the Tsawout First Nation’s longhouse.

    The building, which has stood at the top of a small dirt road on the reserve near Saanichton Bay since 1986, went up in smoke Friday night in dramatic fashion.

    Dispatchers received reports of the fire from as far away as the Malahat, while traffic on the Pat Bay Highway slowed as some drivers gawked at the flames shooting at least 20 metres into the sky.

    By the time firefighters from Central Saanich, Sidney and North Saanich arrived on scene at about 9:30 p.m., the building was already fully engulfed by flames.

    “They were pretty massive flames,” said Eric King, who lives about a kilometre away on Lochside Drive.

    Grey smoke gave way to black smoke and soon the sky was filled with flames, he said, adding the fire died down in about 20 minutes.

    Stephen Horne had just returned from a birthday party when he went around to the back of his house, about 100 metres from the longhouse, and saw smoke coming out of the building.

    “The big house is on fire, the big house is on fire,” he yelled to his wife on the phone.

    Horne hung up, called 911 and ran toward the building, where he met his cousin Jason Pelkey.

    “We thought we heard some people in there, so we were going to check,” Horne said.

    As flames snaked across the roof of the building, Horne said he went to the kitchen door, pushed it open and was about to crawl inside when the force of the fire blew him back several metres.

    Horne, who said he also heard a loud bang and suspected there may have been an old propane tank inside the building, was pulled away by Pelkey and his nephew, Richie Horne.

    “All I could here was voices and it was just so dark and they were screaming and they dragged me down the road,” Horne said.

    He was treated at hospital for smoke inhalation and released several hours later. On Saturday, he nursed a sore hand and ankle at his house.

    Horne’s wife, Debbie Pelkey, is glad her husband only suffered bumps and bruises.

    “If it wasn’t for those two guys, he would have been demolished with that building,” said Pelkey, who was saddened by the loss of the longhouse.

    “We lost a sacred place,” she said, her eyes welling with tears. “That was part of our spirit and they took it away.”

    In the past, Horne said he has had to chase away people partying near the longhouse.

    He said he reported the incidents to the band office and noted a chain strung across the road leading up to the longhouse didn’t deter people from entering the area.

    The longhouse was the centre of the Tsawout community, said Eric Pelkey, leader of the longhouse committee. “We don’t know what we’re going to do now,” said Pelkey, who explained the longhouse, which could seat up to 1,000 people, was used for mask dance ceremonies, funerals, feasts and other community gatherings.

    Pelkey admitted there have been reports of people drinking around the longhouse in the past and noted the last time he visited the building about two weeks ago, a back door had been pried open.

    Replacing the longhouse could take several years and cost up to $500,000, he added.

    It took eight years for the band to replace the last longhouse after it was destroyed by fire in 1978.

    Tsawout chief Allan Claxton said the loss will affect his entire community.

    “It’s definitely a sad day,” he said. “A big piece of our community is gone.”

    The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but arson is not suspected, said Ron French, Central Saanich fire chief.

    mpearson@tc.canwest.com

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

    The Tsawout First Nation's longhouse, destroyed by fire Friday night, was the centre of the community. "We don't know what we're going to do now," says Eric Pelkey, leader of the longhouse committee. > Photo gallery at timescolonist.com
    Photograph by: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist, Times Colonist
    Your Comments

    vm
    July 19, 2009 - 8:13 AM
    Flag this as Inappropriate
    Just wondering if they had insurance on the long house? I hope they can get this built again. Its a very important part of their culture.

    Common Sense
    July 19, 2009 - 7:41 AM
    Flag this as Inappropriate
    .....I'll get my check book .

    ehamilton
    July 19, 2009 - 4:54 AM
    Flag this as Inappropriate
    First off i would like to say that no matter what the cause of the fire this is a tragedy and i hope the community can come together and show respect and show remorse to tsawout. I can not believe that in 2009 there is still a lack of knowledge and stereotypes in Central Saanich about First Nations Culture. We as a community, a town, a city, a province, a country, as a world need more real information of the different cultures that exist in First Nations. Reading comments and observing people at the scene was nothing short of disgraceful, hurtful, and disrespectful. This was no great bonfire to entertain or cause more taxpayers money. " THOSE PEOPLE " have had everthing taken away not only for years but decades, centuries and many generations still can feel loss, abandonment, segregation, and many other forms of racism that still lingers in our society. Lets show some respect towards different cultures globally that are trying to not only educate and identify lost knowledge due to actions of the past, but move forward into a time when one small town can show the rest of the world that we are human beings that support everyone in the community no matter what the ethnic background of all people. I would like to say not only do I feel hurt but would like to apologize on behalf of Vancouver Island for dislplaying disrespect for a tragedy that will take time to heal.

    Rvml
    July 19, 2009 - 1:38 AM
    Flag this as Inappropriate
    Ohh what a great loss not just for TSAWOUT but for all of the saanich people. Makes me sad that this had happend. Makes me sad also that some of these comments were left on here for i am a saanich native and im juss hurt to see some of these comments... For one some people have the teachings but some yet choose not to take the teachings and yet some dont have any sooo this isnt one to blame on our teachings because i am a 20 year old man that us clean and do not follow the drinking trail and if you are to talk about our teachings please watch what you because we are hurt enough as it is thank you very much and please dont say rude things about tax payers paying for our homes not acceptble thank you very much

    AJ Renton
    July 19, 2009 - 12:15 AM
    Flag this as Inappropriate
    Some of you should consider being a little more respectful with your thoughts. if your public comments are this derogatory and jaded, I am worried for what truly runs through your mind. This is a very sad day and many people are extremely hurt and broken because of it. Try imagining their perspective. Care a little. I personally hope some tax payer money goes toward rebuilding the longhouse. I'm gonna find a way to contribute some of my own money to it as well. The Tsawout are a key cultural entity in our lower island community and we need to show them they're valuable to the whole.

    AJ Renton
    July 19, 2009 - 12:15 AM
    Flag this as Inappropriate Some of you should consider being a little more respectful with your thoughts. if your public comments are this derogatory and jaded, I am worried for what truly runs through your mind. This is a very sad day and many people are extremely hurt and broken because of it. Try imagining their perspective. Care a little. I personally hope some tax payer money goes toward rebuilding the longhouse. I'm gonna find a way to contribute some of my own money to it as well. The Tsawout are a key cultural entity in our lower island community and we need to show them they're valuable to the whole.

    Michael
    July 18, 2009 - 10:38 PM
    Flag this as Inappropriate
    Please read this article as if a Church burned down. Then, try to have some compassion for a community that has both positive and negative parts to their lives, much like your own community. It's hard enough that this has happened. Why take the time to come on here to express your hatred?

    Glenn
    July 18, 2009 - 9:38 PM
    Flag this as Inappropriate
    It really saddens me some of the comments here. The people making negative comments seem to have lost some of their humanity and their ability to empathize with a people who are still trying to recover from the effects of the "invasion" of their country. I wonder how they would feel if their children were taken away from them to be abused in residential schools, if your property was taken away from you, all you believed in treated with disdain, I could go on but you get my drift. JJ's comment was the only one that mattered. Wake up people and care for our brothers and sisters on this planet!

    scholar
    July 18, 2009 - 7:41 PM
    Flag this as Inappropriate
    "they"?! How about "we" instead?

    I started where the comments left off yesterday.

    http://www.timescolonist.com/news/Li...515/story.html for the pictures.
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    Sheri, you'll have to aid my memory, but is this down near Island View Beach area? Just off of Mt Newton Cross Rd, below the Waddling Dog Inn? Its been a REALLLLYYY long time since I was down near that area.

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    Yesterday I wouldn't have known that answer, but there were a couple of posts on the eagle forums about it last night, because people were wondering if it was near the Sidney nests (Pat Bay by Epicure).


    It wasn't at the reserve next to our eagles . It was at the Tsawout Reserve. I believe it is in Brentwood Bay about 15 - 20 minutes south of our eagles and the reserve next to our eagles but I am not entirely sure.
    I think it is the one down behind McDonalds and the Waddling Dog.
    ___________

    I think you are correct. The Brentwood one is Tsartlip and as your post signatures indicate, the one next to our eagle nest is Tseycum.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    Some good pics here ... http://www.timescolonist.com/story.html?id=1804838


    Photo Gallery: Central Saanich longhouse blaze

    Firefighters from three departments were called to the Tsawout reserve in Central Saanich Friday night to battle a longhouse fire.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    Tsartlip is most certainly Brentwood Bay. I used to live across the road from them. Good folks live there!
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Update .....

    Tsawout First Nation in Central Saanich begin plans to replace razed longhouse
    By Matthew Pearson, Times Colonist
    July 21, 2009
    StoryPhotos ( 1 )
    Eric Pelkey, the leader of the longhouse committee, says a replacement for the burned structure could cost $500,000.
    Photograph by: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist, Times Colonist

    Members of the Tsawout First Nation gathered yesterday to mourn the loss of the band's longhouse and begin discussions about building a new one.

    The cedar longhouse was destroyed by fire Friday night. The cause remains under investigation.

    Eric Pelkey, the leader of the longhouse committee, said more than 100 people attended the community meeting at the band office.

    Band members are eager to find out what caused the fire, he said, but they have also begun to focus their efforts on replacing the 23-year-old community centre.

    The band has received calls from several local construction companies willing to donate equipment and labour to the rebuilding effort. The Chehalis First Nation, near Agassiz, has offered to donate building plans for a longhouse.

    A Tsawout elder has offered to donate timber from his land to build the new longhouse.

    Pelkey said the replacing the longhouse could cost up to $500,000.

    The band has opened a trust account at a local bank to collect funds. The Tsawout longhouse trust account is being held at the Bank of Montreal in Sidney, Pelkey said.

    Central Saanich Mayor Jack Mar visited Tsawout yesterday to pay his respects.

    With his council's support, he said, he is hoping to use the Central Saanich district hall as a donation centre on the band's behalf, so people in the community can drop off items.

    It took eight years to replace the last longhouse after it was destroyed by fire in 1978. But Pelkey said the outpouring of support encourages him to believe it won't take that long to replace this one.

    "Knowing how many people want to help, it gives me hope we'll get this one built sooner than later," he said.

    This is not the first time fire has touched the Tsawout community. Donations of clothing, furniture and a minivan poured in for a Tsawout family last year after a fire destroyed their house and left two dead.

    mpearson@tc.canwest.com

    © Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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