Operation Kumsheen Response: Reflections from Breyan Sinnott | Team Rubicon

Operation Kumsheen Response: Reflections from Breyan Sinnott

While flying home from Lytton, British Columbia, I reflect on my experiences while serving as a grey shirt deployed with Team Rubicon Canada on Operation Kumsheen Response.

I deployed on Operation Kumsheen Response from August 21, 2021 to August 28, 2021. I was a member of Strike Team Alpha, meaning the first team to operate tactically. Strike Team Alpha consisted of 4 members from all across Canada: a male retired Captain in the Fire Service, a female Search and Rescue Navigator for the Air Force, a female retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and a female Firefighter/Fire Inspector. Our team grew by 2 members mid-week. We gained a male Registered Practical Nurse and a male Information Technology Businessman.

During Operation Kumsheen Response, Strike Team Alpha had recovered many family heirlooms from the ashes of destroyed homes including urns of loved ones, coin collections, jewelry, photos, decorative statues, firearms, service knives and family collectibles. Having the opportunity to recover and return these items to family members was remarkable and emotional. Although the week-long deployment was full it was incredibly rewarding.

What stood out to me during my deployment was our initial visit to the Village. Upon arrival in Lytton, Strike Team Alpha was given a tour of the Lytton First Nation grounds where we would be working. While driving on Main Street, each side was lined with downed buildings, power lines, burnt vehicles, rubble, and ash. Security fencing had been put up for safety. Mountains lined the background of the town, showing its natural beauty. Amongst all the devastation from the fire, a single sunflower stood, alive, open, and bright on Main Street. The sunflower represented a ray of light for what Lytton First Nation will be once again. The sunflower also reminded me of the volunteers of Team Rubicon. It made me think of the Greyshirts that gather to assist, regardless of how dark the days are, to provide a ray of light and hope to those who need it most.