The Tsilhqot’in National Government is calling for a public inquiry into the summer’s wildfire response, Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse said.
“A public inquiry that includes the federal government is needed to investigate this, clarify problems and recommend improvements,” Alphonse noted in a press release.
Alphonse said government agencies failed to acknowledge First Nation authority, expertise and capability to protect communities and territory.
“Evacuation orders were unlawfully pushed on our communities and we were not consulted on road closures, removal of health personnel and other resource allocations. These failings put our communities at greater risk.”
Pointing to the Firestorm 2003 Provincial Review Report and its recommendations, Alphonse said the lessons and recommendations made at that time were largely ignored.
“There is an urgent need for better informed and better co-ordinated emergency response by government agencies, recognizing First Nations’ legal authority to manage the emergency in their communities and fully integrating First Nation firefighters, equipment and knowledge with provincial efforts,” he said, adding despite these problems, First Nation communities met the challenge head on and played a major role in protecting people and communities from the wildfires.