‘I don’t know if we’ve been blacklisted or what’
Tensions boil between First Nations and B.C. amid wildfire state of emergency
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.”
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