Shuswap Band included in EMBC pilot project
Emergency Management BC (EMBC) and the Justice Institute of British Columbia are working with 11 First Nations communities, including the Shuswap Band at Invermere, to develop relevant and effective emergency management training, based on the unique needs of First Nations.
This pilot project is a result of a service agreement between EMBC and Indigenous Services Canada that enables EMBC to provide the Province’s emergency management support services to First Nations communities in B.C.
Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation stated, “2017 was the worst wildfire season in 100 years, and many First Nations communities were particularly hard-hit. This training will help build skills that enhance the capacity of First Nations communities to respond to large scale emergencies in their area, and support community members with emergency social services.”
“The emergency management pilot workshop and information session was helpful in showing us our weakness, but most of all highlighted our strengths as a community, giving us a clearer direction on where we want to be as a community in terms of emergency management,” said Norman Alexis, Tl’azt’en Nation emergency program co-ordinator.
“Our government is committed to building emergency preparedness and response capacity within First Nations communities,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Through this partnership, we will support the development of critical emergency management and social services training in First Nations communities throughout our province, to ensure they have the tools they need to take action in the event of an emergency.”
A portion of the funding has been provided through the Indigenous Skills Training Development Fund. This includes funding to support the participation of eight communities in the northeast that have indicated an interest and need for emergency social services training.
“In the event of an emergency or natural disaster, we all want our families to be safe,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “This service agreement provides an important framework for partners to work together, so that First Nations communities get the emergency management training they need to be proactive and save lives.”
This emergency management training project is one of many areas where the province is advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The province’s focus on building a true and lasting vision of reconciliation is anchored by a cross-government commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and case law.
The provincial government is making significant new investments in Indigenous priorities and reconciliation. More than $250 million is being allocated over the next three years in the areas of affordable housing, language revitalization, child care, mental health and addictions, reducing poverty, improving access to justice, skills training, emergency management and revitalizing the environmental assessment process.
Emergency Management BC is responsible for developing provincial-level exercises that test British Columbia’s disaster readiness.
During the 2017 freshet and wildfire events, EMBC established strong relationships with a number of First Nations communities through its regional offices, and through engagement sessions that involved in-field outreach. In addition, EMBC regional staff gained insight into the unique and specific needs of the communities in their regions. Their input influenced the selection of participants for the pilot project and emergency social services (ESS) training, a joint Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and Emergency Management BC press release explained.
The Indigenous Skills Training Development Fund aligns with both the spirit and intent of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliations Commission’s Calls to Action.
The pilot emergency management workshops will be targeted to seven communities: Tl’azt’en Nation; Gitxaala Nation; Squamish First Nation; Shuswap Band; ‘Namgis First Nation; Xat’sull First Nation (Soda and Deep Creek); Secwepmc Nation.