Team BC, represented by Saik’uz First Nation, wins third place at the 34th Annual National Indigenous Firefighting Competition. Photo credit: Chris Turner.
For a week in September, Indigenous firefighter teams from across Canada gathered near Montreal to learn and compete on the Kahnawake Reserve located on the Mohawk Nation. Team BC, represented by Saik’uz First Nation firefighters, learned alongside other provincial teams at the national educational conference where they participated in extrication training as well as numerous educational workshops.
Chris Turner, a fire services officer with First Nations’ Emergency Services Society (FNESS), was in Montreal to learn and cheer on Team BC. “It was an amazing week of learning, sportsmanship, and comradery with many lifelong memories made,” Turner said.
Team BC competed in four events against six teams representing Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic. Most of the competition events tested physical strength, coordination, and teamwork, but one event examined each team’s teaching ability and required them to deliver a public education presentation at the conference.
At the end of the week, the winners were announced and Team Manitoba, represented by Cross Lake, won first place. Team Alberta, represented by Beaver Lake, placed second. With a team comprised of brand-new firefighters in a fire department less than a year old, this win for Team Alberta might have been unexpected. However, with the leadership of their new fire chief, the Beaver Lake fire department is making huge strides in their community by developing fire safety activities, public education programs, and by attracting new firefighters to their department.
“Watching them the entire week was like seeing an underdog story come to life,” said Turner, “They should be looked at as an inspiration to communities who are looking to build a fire department.”
Team BC won third place and demonstrated elite skill, determination, and teamwork during the entire competition. They’ve made their families, community, and province proud. Firefighters from the Saik’uz First Nation won the opportunity to represent Team BC at the national competition after placing first at FNESS’ 39th Annual BC Indigenous Firefighter Competition held in June on the Penticton Indian Band.