NADLEH WHUT'EN TERRITORY, BC, Nov. 29, 2018 /CNW/ - The Nadleh Whut'en First Nation has released a new report, Trial by Fire: Nadleh Whut'en and the Shovel Lake Fire, 2018, chronicling persistent problems with emergency management in British Columbia.
Last summer, the Shovel Lake Fire threatened the Nadleh Whut'en village on Nadleh Bunk'et (Fraser Lake). The village was evacuated, and thankfully no one perished in the fire. Nadleh Whut'en did lose three structures at a healing camp. But far more significant was the burning of 111,966 hectares of land from Shovel Lake and other fires last summer. That's over 22% of Nadleh's traditional territory.
Trial by Fire examines the many issues faced by Nadleh Whut'en during the emergency. There is no protocol for information sharing with First Nations governments, which meant Nadleh Whut'en received a notice to evacuate their healing camp a day after it had already burned.
There is also no protocol for funding emergency operations during an emergency. That has left Nadleh Whut'en with crushing debt after being assured by Emergency Management British Columbia that costs would be reimbursed.
Evacuees faced disrespect from many businesses. Representatives from Nadleh Whut'en were forced to confront management of local restaurants to stop discrimination on the part of staff.
Access to funds from the Provincial Government for recovery after emergencies is almost impossible for First Nations and their members. This has left many Nadleh members without food, since their fridges are ruined, or fuel to heat their homes since there is no firewood left to cut.
"Shovel Lake will not be the last fire we face," said Chief Larry Nooski. "With climate change, and the problems with modern forestry, forest fires are becoming more frequent and severe. But if we can act on the recommendations found in this report, we will be far better prepared to meet these challenges in the future."
With the release of this report, the Chief and Council of Nadleh Whut'en hope to spur the Government of BC to implement protocols — through consultation with First Nations — to improve emergency management and guarantee funding for emergency operations and recovery once the emergency has passed.
To download the report, click here.
Editors: High resolution photos of the fire available here.
SOURCE Nadleh Whut’en First Nation
For further information: Chief Larry Nooski, Nadleh Whut'en First Nation at [email protected] or (604) 865-0658 for comment