Simpcw councillor in favour of Indigenous-led disaster response
October 13, 2023
By Spencer Hall, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In a recent report analyzing the province’s response to the plethora of natural disasters experienced in B.C. in 2021, BC Ombudsperson Jay Chalke is calling for more Indigenous-led disaster response services.
In the report, released October 3rd, Chalke said legislation regarding disaster response needs to be co-developed and recognize the fact that First Nations and Metis communities have the experience, skills, and knowledge about how to best care for community members — a statement echoed by Simpcw First Nations Councilor Ron Lampreau Jr. when asked about the benefits of his community’s disaster response plans.
“We have emergency response, evacuation, and recovery plans that are tailored to our community’s needs. No one knows the Simpcw Community better than us, and we understand how important it is to be prepared for any type of emergency,” Lampreau Jr. told the Goat.
He said the First Nation developed its own emergency and disaster management plan to provide disaster relief for any emergency that may occur.
“One thing we have learned during emergencies is that outside support and resources are usually not available due to the scale of these emergencies.Our Simpcw Emergency and disaster relief plans, which we have developed ourselves, provide culturally sensitive support for Simpcw members,” Lampreau Jr. said.
He said Simpcw-led disaster relief services are vital because they ensure response and recovery efforts are culturally appropriate, respectful, and responsive to the unique needs and traditions of his community.
“The benefits of a Simpcw-led disaster relief service include culturally sensitive support, quicker response times, and a better understanding of our community’s needs during disasters,” Lampreau Jr. said.
He said emergency management in his community has grown significantly since the 2003 McClure-Barriere Wildfire.
“With each emergency situation, we learn something new or realize how we could better support our community,” Lampreau Jr. said.
Spencer Hall is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for The Rocky Mountain Goat.
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