Okanagan Indian Band elders Wilma and James Paul lost their home to a fire on Feb. 22, 2022. (GoFundMe photo)

Okanagan Indian Band elders Wilma and James Paul lost their home to a fire on Feb. 22, 2022. (GoFundMe photo)

Okanagan Indian Band elders lose home in fire

A GoFundMe has been launched for Wilma and James Paul, who started building their home in 1986

An Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) family lost their home and possessions in a fire this week, and the band is appealing to the community to give them a helping hand.

OKIB elders Wilma and James Paul and their nephew are looking to rebuild after they lost everything — including family artifacts and historical relics — to the Feb. 22 blaze. The family did not have insurance, according to the OKIB.

“Wilma and Jimmy worked hard to build their home, starting in 1986. Since then, they spent countless hours digging boulders and removing tree stumps to create green space around their home, and had eventually added a garden over time. Jimmy tinkered around the yard daily, and Wilma would spend her time cooking in the kitchen to feed the friends and family that would visit them. Anyone that visited their home, knew it was a welcoming home, but also knew how amazing her bannock was,” a spokesperson for the OKIB said in a press release Friday, Feb. 25.

Wilma and James are respected elders in the community known to be very generous, kind and loving, who opened the doors of their now destroyed home to family needing a place to stay, the band said.

“After all that our members and indeed everyone has gone through over the past few years, this is a major tragedy for the community,” said OKIB Chief Byron Louis. “Wildfire, the pandemic, possible flooding, and now a family is beset by this tragic event. In true Syilx spirit, I know that many members, the extended community, and the business community at large will want to help out.”

A GoFundMe has been launched to help the Paul family, and people are invited to donate whatever they can. In addition to money, donations of gift cards for food, clothing and gas are being accepted. The band asks that people do not donate physical items at this time due to a lack of storage space. Band liaison Grant Louis will take donations to the family. Louis can be contacted at 250-306-7179 or addworker@okanagan.org.

Items the couple are in need of include jackets, school supplies, food, personal items and eventually furniture.

OKIB can issue a donation receipt for tax purposes.

To reach out to the family, contact family liaison Cheryl Louis at 250-938-5221 or oppenheimer.ca@gmail.com

READ MORE: Oliver home destroyed in fire

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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