Courtesy of the Government of British Columbia:
The safety and security of First Nation communities is a shared priority for the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia. Canada is committed to partnering with First Nations to ensure access to emergency assistance services that are comparable to those available to nearby non-Indigenous communities.
Today, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, on behalf of the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, along with the Honourable Scott Fraser, British Columbia Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, the Honourable Mike Farnworth, British Columbia Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and Chiefs of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, announced the signing of a tripartite Collaborative Emergency Management Agreement.
This is the first tripartite agreement of its kind in Canada and a significant step in federal, provincial and Tsilhqot’in Nation governments working together, learning together, and starting to implement practical changes necessary to help people in the event of an emergency situation in the community. It will also benefit the region, inform work with other Indigenous governments and communities, and contribute to the larger commitment to improve overall emergency management in the Province.
The Agreement reflects the common goal of the three governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
Under the Agreement, the federal, provincial and Tsilhqot’in Nation governments will work together to identify best practices and build on the capacity of the Tsilhqot’in communities in emergency management. The foundation for this work will be the lessons-learned during the unprecedented 2017 wildfire season in British Columbia.
The goal of this Agreement is to build trust, relationships, strong lines of communication, improved processes between all partners, and to deliver emergency services in the most efficient and effective way for all British Columbians in the region.
The Hon. Jane Philpott, MD,PC,PC - Federal Minister of Indigenous Services said:
“The Government of Canada is pleased to partner with British Columbia and the Tsilhqot'in Nation to harness the strengths, expertise and experience of the Nation to build emergency management capacity that will benefit the whole region. After an unprecedented wildfire season in 2017, agreements like this one will improve the response needed to work effectively with Tsilhqot’in Nation in the event of an emergency, as well as best practices and practical solutions that can be shared to benefit other First Nation communities.”
While the Hon. Scott Fraser, BC Minister of Indigenous Relations/Reconciliation said:
“One of the most important things we can do as a government is implement change that will help keep people safer. In the aftermath of last year’s devastating wildfires, Indigenous communities in particular faced the devastation of losing homes, fearing for the safety of loved ones and being displaced for weeks or months, and there is much we can learn together from this experience about how we can respond better to keep families and communities safe. This Agreement creates a true partnership with the Tsilhqot’in National Government that will allow them to plan the best way forward for their communities to respond in an emergency.”
The Hon. Mike Farnsworth, BC's Minister of Public Safety stated:
“We value the important role that First Nations play in emergency mitigation, preparedness and response throughout our province. This Agreement is about strengthening relationships and working toward reconciliation with the Tsilhqot’in Nation, and at the same time acknowledging the need to support Indigenous self-determination in emergency management.”
Finally Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman, Tsilhqot’in National Government said:
“The wildfires during the summer of 2017 taught us that First Nations often live on the front lines of wildfires and have to be partners in preparation and response. As a remote nation, we faced extreme challenges, and outside agencies were uneducated about our expertise, our capacity, our governance structures and jurisdiction. As governments, Canada, BC and the Tsilhqot’in Nation have numerous lessons to learn from. Our Nation, specifically the community of Tl’etinqox, was the first in Canadian history to ever exercise their jurisdiction and governance by not evacuating during a recommended evacuation order. We had the years of preparation, the expertise, the machinery, the fire crews and the resources to stand and fight. We protected our community from encroaching wildfire while provincial and federal resources were stretched too thin. Emergency situations are only going to increase in a time of climate change. This tripartite emergency agreement is just a start to working together as governments and preparing for future emergency situations.”
The Government of Canada and the British Columbia Government have a 10-year, $29.6 million bilateral Emergency Management Service Agreement to enhance the delivery of emergency management support services to on-reserve First Nation communities in British Columbia. This Agreement enables all First Nation communities on reserve to receive emergency management support comparable to what is currently provided to local authorities.
Canada and British Columbia are working with First Nation partners to develop a Province-wide tripartite approach to emergency management that recognizes First Nations as full partners.
The tripartite Collaborative Emergency Management Agreement with the Tsilhqot’in National Government is separate from and complementary to the Emergency Management Service Agreement, as it reflects a Tsilhqot’in Nation-based approach to building their capacity for emergency planning and response.
The Tsilhqot'in Nation consists of the Tsilhqot'in communities of Tl'etinqox (Anaham), ?Esdilagh (Alexandria), Yunesit'in (Stone), Tsi Deldel (Alexis Creek/Redstone), Tl'esqox (Toosey) and Xeni Gwet'in (Nemiah).
Collaborative Emergency Management Agreement:
Tsilhqot'in National Government: http://www.tsilhqotin.ca/
Tsilhqot’in National Government profile: http://fnp-ppn.aandc-aadnc.gc.ca/fnp/Main/Search/TCMain.aspx?TC_NUMBER=9097&lang=eng