The Tsilhqot’in Nation has signed an agreement with the federal and BC governments that will make it a full partner in wildfire response.
The tripartite deal, developed from hard lessons learned during the 2017 wildfires, will see the province, Ottawa, and the Tsilhqot’in work together to identify best practices for emergency response and bolster the First Nation’s capacity.
Chief Joe Alphonse, who defied an evacuation order despite having three quarters of his community surrounded by fires, says they didn’t say no for the sake of saying no. Alphonse says they were prepared.
Alphonse says he’d eventually like to see the development of a training centre and the establishment of a First Nations evacuation centre.
BC Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser says the 2017 wildfire season revealed some hard truths, including institutional racism in government emergency management response.
Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould says the intent of the tripartite agreement is to harness the strength, experience, and knowledge of the Tsilhqot’in while respecting the Nation’s jurisdiction when it comes to protecting its people.