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Tl’etinqox offers space for church services after Chilcotin Log Church fire

In February their church was destroyed by fire
Members of the Chilcotin Log Church are happy to have use of the elders centre at Tl’etinqox First Nation as a place to gather until they rebuild their church at Hanceville after it was destroyed by a fire in February 2024. (Cecil Duperron photo)

Within a few months of their church being destroyed by fire, a Chilcotin a congregation has a temporary new home at Tl’etinqox First Nation.

Long-time Chilcotin Log Church pastor Art Joyce said they are now meeting at the elders centre at Tl’etinqox.

They had been meeting in homes but the numbers have been growing with more young people joining.

“Mitch Verde who works for the reserve just welcomed us and they are not even charging us rent,” Joyce said, noting the elders centre is almost a perfect space for them and they could not ask for anything more.

Joyce likened it to the 2017 wildfires when the community welcomed himself and his late wife to park their RV at the community.

“Under Chief Joe Alphonse’ leadership during the fires they took us in. They gave us food, fuel, communication - everything. It did not matter who you were - you did not have to be a community member.”

Church services are held at 1 p.m. on Sunday and Joyce said it has been “such a good feeling.”

He described the elders centre as an old log building, one of the oldest left in the community of Tl’etinqox.

“Someone told me they think it was built by the same people who built the former log [Catholic] church that burned down and was rebuilt.”

Joyce said the community has done some refurbishing inside the elders centre,

Drawing a diagram on a piece of paper, he explained there is an open area in the elders centre with a small kitchen on one side and washrooms on the other.

“Our ladies love the kitchen. The one in our church was really small.”

Having the opportunity to use the elders centre is giving his congregation some ideas of what they would like to incorporate when they rebuild the Chilcotin Log Church, he added.

“It’s well used,” he said of the elders centre.

In the past, the Chilcotin Log Church also had a free store, but that was a very big job for the four women who took care of it.

As for the growing congregation, Joyce could not be happier.

“I am ecstatic that young people are joining us. Many of them are ranchers and full-time workers.”

Cecil Duperron of Big Creek has been a member of the church for five years and said he thinks the elders centre will work out well for them until they can rebuild.

“It is very generous of the band to let us use it. It has doubled the size of our congregation.”

READ MORE: Chilcotin Log Church destroyed by fire

READ MORE: Community consoles pastor after suspicious fire claims Chilcotin church

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