‘I don’t know if we’ve been black­listed or what’

Ten­sions boil be­tween First Na­tions and B.C. amid wild­fire state of emer­gency

StarMetro Halifax - - CANADA - Jesse Win­ter, David P. Ball and Ainslie Cruick­shank STARMETRO VAN­COU­VER Keith Doucette Alex Ballingall OT­TAWA BUREAU

TL’ETINQOX NA­TION TERRITORY—LIT­TLE bursts of smoke erupt around Mau­rice Hink’s feet as he soaks the scorched earth with a fire hose.

Hink and the four other mem­bers of his Tl’etinqox Na­tion wild­fire crew spent the ma­jor­ity of the past two months sit­ting idle while huge sec­tions of Bri­tish Columbia burned. Mau­rice’s boss, Har­vey Hink, said his crews wanted noth­ing more than to get out on a fire line and do what they’re trained to do, but the B.C. gov­ern­ment waited weeks be­fore ac­ti­vat­ing them.

In­stead, they called in help from Mex­ico, New Zealand and across Canada, while crews like Mau­rice’s were HAL­I­FAX—CANADA’S po­lice chiefs say in light of re­cent gun-re­lated tragedies in Fred­er­ic­ton and in other cities across the coun­try they are strik­ing a com­mit­tee to de­nied their chance to con­trib­ute.

It wasn’t un­til Wed­nes­day, the day the B.C. gov­ern­ment de­clared a provincewide state of emer­gency, that the last of the Tl’etinqox crews on standby were de­ployed.

“They put Mex­i­can guys out on the fires be­fore they put our guys on those fires,” said Chief Joe Alphonse at the Tl’etinqox Na­tion gov­ern­ment of­fice out­side Wil­liams Lake. “I don’t know if we’ve been black­listed or what.”

Mean­while, close to 560 wild­fires are burn­ing across B.C., with only hot, dry weather in sight. It’s the sec­ond year in a row the prov­ince has de­clared a state of emer­gency in re­sponse to the wild­fire threat — a mea­sure that be­fore 2017 hadn’t been im­ple­mented since 2003, and be­fore that, 1996.

There are al­most 3,400 per­son­nel work­ing to man­age the wild­fires.

an­a­lyze data re­lated to gun vi­o­lence.

The Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice, which wrapped up its an­nual con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day in Hal­i­fax, says it wants to come up with ev­i­dence-based rec­om­men­da­tions to help com­bat the prob­lem.

Van­cou­ver Po­lice Chief Adam Palmer, the newly elected pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion, said while gun vi­o­lence “ebbs and flows” across the coun­try, Mau­rice Hink, an In­dige­nous fire­fighter with Tl'etinqox wild­fire crew, work­ing on the front line.

Yet, with so many crews and now the armed forces be­ing called in, Alphonse of the Tl’etinqox Na­tion wants to know why some of his firefighters still aren’t be­ing used. He has an ad­di­tional 80 firefighters not on standby who are trained and could be mo­bi­lized

the chiefs be­lieve there has been a spike in il­le­gal firearm use over the past year.

“We are see­ing in many cities, small and large through­out our coun­try, an in­crease in gun vi­o­lence whether its Van­cou­ver, Toronto, Win­nipeg or out here in the Mar­itimes, we are see­ing an in­crease in that,” said Palmer.

within a few days, he said.

In a state­ment, a spokesper­son for the Min­istry of Forests, Lands, Nat­u­ral Re­source Op­er­a­tions and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment said wild­fire fighters have been de­ployed for a to­tal of 26 days this sea­son and on standby for 42 days.

“These are Emer­gency Fire Fighter Crews and thus have lim­ited de­ploy­ment use. B.C. is us­ing them to the max­i­mum amount pos­si­ble,” Brett Lowther said in an email.

“Not all fire crews can be de­ployed at the same time, and it is crit­i­cal to main­tain a set of crews on standby to de­ploy as new starts arise. This strat­egy was reaf­firmed yesterday as the (Tl’etinqox) crew was avail­able to help ac­tion new starts,” he said.

Many of the firefighters who Alphonse says still aren’t even on standby are the same peo­ple who man­aged to hold back a mas­sive wild­fire that reached the Tl’etinqox Na­tion’s doorstep last sum­mer. They stayed be­hind, in de­fi­ance of an evac­u­a­tion or­der, and fought the fires with heavy ma­chin­ery. OT­TAWA — A new hol­i­day is com­ing to your cal­en­dar, one that will mark the dark legacy of Canada’s res­i­den­tial school sys­tem.

In its on­go­ing pur­suit of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with In­dige­nous peo­ples, the Trudeau gov­ern­ment is con­sult­ing First Na­tions, Métis and Inuit groups to cre­ate a new “na­tional day” to hon­our those who at­tended the in­fa­mous church-run schools.

“It’s all about the im­pacts of the res­i­den­tial schools, and the geno­cide that it had on In­dige­nous peo­ples,” Perry Bellegarde, Na­tional Chief of the Assem­bly of First Na­tions, said.

“That’s a chap­ter that peo­ple don’t like ac­knowl­edg­ing and don’t like see­ing, so it’s very im­por­tant for that to hap­pen.”

Po­lice chiefs to study ‘spike’ in gun vi­o­lence in last year

Na­tional day planned for res­i­den­tial school re­mem­brance

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