First Nations Adapt Program (FNAP)
Thanks and acknowledgment to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), our funder for this multi-year project.
The First Nations Emergency Services Society (FNESS) – Forest Fuel Management (FFM) Department worked with the Shackan Indian Band, Xwisten (Bridge River) First Nation and Yunesit’in National Government exploring climate change issues (e.g., wildfires and drought) in their respective First Nations communities.
This project was unique as it utilized Indigenous-informed qualitative research methods to assess climate change vulnerabilities and identify Indigenous cultural values and traditional burning knowledge from each participating community. Capacity building was another important dimension to this climate change adaptation project which included harmonizing climate change risks (wildfires and droughts) into wildfire mitigation which led to the co-development of community-based burn plans based on Indigenous cultural values and corresponding burning practices and non-Indigenous prescribed fire practices.
The Revitalizing Traditional Burning project is intended to inform policy makers, wildfire management specialists, crew leaders, land planners, and program managers in developing wildfire mitigation strategies that can maintain or enhance cultural attributes of First Nations communities. This is particularly timely, relevant and culturally congruent with recommendations from notable reports and declarations that include, but are not limited to, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action; 2017 BC Flood and Wildfire Review by George Abbott and Chief Maureen Chapman; Survey conducted by Lori D. Daniels, Shannon M. Hagerman, and Sarah L. Ravensbergen entitled, Wildfire prevention and fuels management in the wildland-urban interface: BC community perceptions, released May 2018; and the BC Wildfire Service Strategic Prevention Review led by consultant MNP LLP in August 2018.
This program provides funding to First Nation communities/organizations located below the 60th parallel to assess and respond to climate change impacts on community infrastructure and emergency management. First Nation communities are particularly at risk because often their location, ageing infrastructure, and close ties to the land.
The program aims to support the gathering of Indigenous knowledge, community involvement in planning processes and building capacity within communities to conduct work and monitor the changing climate. The program focuses on key priority areas resulting from the current and future changing climate impacts on First Nation infrastructure and emergency management.
The central goal of the program is to improve community resiliency to climate change by improving knowledge of the issues facing communities so they can better plan for the future.
FNESS is currently advancing a multi-year project whereby climate change concerns, including wildfires and drought, will be explored with Bridge River Indian Band in Years 1 and 2 (FY2017/2018 and FY2018/2019) and Shackan Indian Band in Year 2 (FY2018/2019). The objectives of this study are: 1) conduct and analyze qualitative interviews with community members and 2) co-develop a community-based burn management plan customized for the community.
Community members with cultural burning knowledge are selected to be interviewed. In the past, these members burned areas in order to enhance berry-production and foraging for deer, medicine plants, etc. Each community will have different goals and objectives. Our research determined that burning for the reasons stated above is no longer done. A majority of the burning carried out today is for hazard reduction a practice that has reduced significantly over the past 10 years.
Content analysis of the interviews involves analyzing the transcripts to search for similarities and patterns in locations where communities burned in the past and/or present and when and how they conducted the burn and for what reasons.
With this information we can develop a custom community-based burn plan for each community. It will be designed to be a template to be used yearly and will include plans for burning areas on-reserve as well as on adjacent crown land. Culturally relevant values will be a key component of the final burn plan developed for the community.
FNESS is responsible for monitoring and reporting the results to ISC.
The First Nations Adapt Project team has been working alongside the Bridge River, Shackan Indian Bands, and Yunesit'in Government.
Cultural Burn Videos 2019
Thanks and Acknowledging our Funder for this project was provided by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers’ Wildland Fire Management Working Group.
The Indigenous cultural burning storytelling and practices project is a companion initiative to the Revitalizing traditional burning: Integrating Indigenous cultural values into wildfire management and climate change adaptation planning project.
The Indigenous cultural burning storytelling and practices project facilitated an opportunity for the FNESS FFM Department to conduct spring cultural burns (March 2019) alongside Shackan Indian Band and Xwisten (Bridge River) First Nation respectively in collaboration with BC Wildfire Service (BCWS).
Two videos were produced. Each video is approximately 8-12 minutes in length, and features interviews with representatives from FNESS, Shackan Indian Band, and Xwisten First Nation about the importance of cultural burning revitalization.
In closing, the Indigenous cultural burning storytelling and practices project broadens learning opportunities about cultural burning revitalization to strategic partners across the various orders of government (e.g., provincial and federal governments) as stories/case studies on
(i) advancing cultural burning revitalization in relation to reconciliation, wildfire prevention and risk reduction, and climate change adaptation; and
(ii) enhancing holistic knowledge and observations of wildfire management to inform climate change adaptation planning for First Nations communities of similar scale and needs.