“These eight communities share this traditional territory in the Elephant Hill fire [area]Â», Explains Angela Kane, CEO of Secwepemcul’ecw Recovery and Stewardship Society. âWe asked these communities to sit down at the table technically and work together in the field, as well as discuss critical elements about which species are being replanted and the harvesting principles we want to see. “
The 240-page report focuses on four broad topics: the fire itself, the joint recovery process, lessons learned, and next steps beyond the Elephant Hill fire.
âI think what’s unique about this report is that it examines what comes next. When the smoke subsides and media attention dies, âsuggests report co-author Sarah Dickson-Hoyle. âCommunities and governments need to examine these devastated landscapes and think about ‘how to restore these watersheds? Â»How to bring back the fauna? This report really traces that process of what comes after a fire and the types of decisions that are made, and the role that First Nations can and should play in that process.
âIt’s been part of the land your whole life,â says Kukpi7 Justin Kane of the Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation. âSo understanding what is affected, which depends on this system, is the most important part when trying to do recovery and restore.
The company was formed, in part, to ensure that affected First Nations have a meaningful contribution to the recovery process after the Elephant Hill fire. The first six of the 30 Calls to Action contained in the report focus on emergency preparedness and improving communication and collaboration between First Nations and the BC Wildfire Service. At launch on Monday, the BC Wildfire Service pledged to work to achieve these goals.
âI know this was something that was in place years ago and for some reason that communication and collaboration has ceased,â says Kukpi7 Kane. âNow it’s time to start re-evaluating some of this. Work together.”
âWe can’t do it individually anymore,â says Rob Schweitzer, director of forest fire operations for the BC Wildfire Service. âWe need to consider a collective approach given the type of fire behaviors and conditions that we observe. “
Other recommendations relate to archaeological sites, forest management and planning. However, one of the main lessons of the SRSS report is the increase in funding to First Nations across Secwepemculecw to help build the capacity of communities.
âTo have teams of firefighters. Having emergency management people in place to coordinate and work with government when disasters strike, and to be able to prepare and manage before, âsays Angela Kane.
Click here for full report or summary and recommendations.