B.C.’s minister of of public safety Mike Farnworth, Canada’s minister of justice and attorney general of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould, Tsilhqot’in National Government tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse and Tsilhqot’in youth ambassador Peyal Laceese at Saturday’s press conference. Graham Gillis photo

B.C. First Nation, governments sign first-ever emergency management agreement

A first of its kind agreement will see three levels of government work together so the Tsilhqot’in National Government can determine its emergency management

A first-of-its-kind tripartite emergency management agreement with a First Nations government in Canada was unveiled in Vancouver, B.C. Saturday morning at the Pan Pacific.

Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the agreement which has been signed between the federal, provincial and Tsilhqot’in National governments.

“It’s truly an historic agreement,” Wilson-Raybould said. “Last year’s devastating wildfire season underscored the need to strengthen our collective emergency response system. The lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities made a bad situation even worse.”

Wilson-Raybould said it is important to recognize the courage, strength and determination of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, the firefighters and first responders who safeguarded their communities and kept their members safe in the summer of 2017.

“In face of this crisis, the leadership and response of the Tsilhqot’in Nation impressed upon me this — there is nothing more fundamental to any government than its ability to protect its citizens,” she said, noting going forward it will be critical to collectively draw on the lessons learned from the 2017 wildfires to ensure First Nations are supported during emergencies in a manner that respects their inherent right to self-determination.

Tl’etinqox Chief and TNG tribal chair Joe Alphonse said the agreement is a “huge” achievement for his community.

“This is a start and we still have a lot of work to do, but I’m confident with the expertise and the commitment to get things right it will happen,” Alphonse said. “Fires and flooding are the new norm and we better be prepared. That’s what we learned last summer.”

Alphonse said his community was one of the first in Canadian history to defy an evacuation order when they did that last summer.

“We fought for our right to stay on our reserve land. We are not signing our authority over to anyone. My recommendation to any First Nation out there is don’t talk about self-determination — go out and do it.”

Read More: Tl’etinqox First Nation prepares to protect itself from wildfires

Alphonse said his people have traditionally utilized fire to manage forests and know the forests in the area.

“In 2009 and 2010 we were evacuated and after 2010 we said we would never evacuate again. We have trained up to 400 firefighters and have teamed up with Tsi Del Del Forestry Enterprises and its equipment.”

The tripartite agreement comes within weeks of the federal government’s exoneration of the Tsilhqot’in war chiefs that were hanged in the 1860s and almost four years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the Tsilhqot’in rights and title case.

Now, Alphonse said, with the Tshilqot’in want to get control of all aspects of their own lives, including emergency management.

“We would like to have our own emergency response and training centre,” he added. “We didn’t fight for Aboriginal title to hand it over in the future. Any crisis that hits, we’ll take it on. Even if we fail, we will have gained knowledge.”

Minister of public safety and solicitor general Mike Farnworth said the agreement is a significant step for B.C.

“You are the people on the land and the ground and we need to learn from your expertise,” Farnworth told the First Nation leaders. “We know mistakes were made and we want to do better.”

Farnworth said the government wants to make emergency management better for everyone in the province, including First Nations.

“We are working together to make sure our emergency management educational materials are culturally sensitive and accessible for Indigenous communities,” Farnworth said. “This all stems from our 10-year agreement with the Government of Canada to deliver emergency management support to First Nations communities on reserve.”

Joining Alphonse in Vancouver were TNG chiefs Jimmy Lulua, Francis Laceese, Otis Guichon Sr. and Roy Stump.

Tl’esqox youth ambassador Peyal Laceese drummed and sang an opening song while Musqueam elder Shane Pointe said a prayer and welcoming to traditional territory.

Read More: Crews stop fire at the doorstep of Tl’etinqox community



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Story of Wet’suwet’en Chief Alfred Joseph being told

Song of the Earth on Chief Gisday’wa will be launched in Hagwilget

Telkwa holds the line on mill rates

Telkwa taxes to remain steady, but water and sewer rates are going up

Terrace death not considered suspicious at this time: RCMP

Body of 49-year-old man was found in wooded area near Olson Ave. March 22

Highway 16 Action Plan driving progress

Safety, connectivity main goals of scheme presented to Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.

Houston woman gets two years for aggravated assault

Ewald pleads guilty; trial of co-accused Calvin Dyrland begins in Smithers court

VIDEO: 13-year-old killed in B.C. crash that involved five kids

The children range in age from six to 17.

Study: Why Canadian police should have a dedicated animal cruelty unit

People view fighting animal cruelty as a public responsibility

Convicted pedophile from B.C. raises fears after move to Ontario

Police have issued a warning about Madilyn Harks in Brampton

Mystery plane wakes up B.C. residents

An aircraft circled Langley City over the weekend after midnight for about an hour

Yellow snake spotted slithering in Greater Victoria neighbourhood

Police describe it as ‘large, pale [and] yellow’ suggesting the snake may be exotic

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

British Columbians are paying more for booze but also broccoli

Victoria’s inflation was 2.3 per cent, a tick above Vancouver’s of 2.2 per cent

UPDATED: IHIT investigating fatal crash in Surrey

Three people dead, investigators expected to be at scene ‘for significant amount of time’

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Most Read