Working with First Nation Communities

Topics: Manitoba, Indigenous Communities
Michelle Palansky | May 22, 2020

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Our Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) team really gets around. In the fall of 2019, the team travelled 5,900 km, visited 10 First Nation communities, and spotted one wildcat.

The DRR team works with communities on a four-phase strategy to increase emergency preparedness and reduce the impact of future emergencies and disasters.

Four Phases:
Phase One
First Nation Leadership meets with the Red Cross team, usually in the community when possible to discuss the community’s emergency response planning needs.

Phase Two
The DRR team again meets with First Nation members, in the community, to collect data that is required to create a plan.

Phase Three
The DRR team drafts an emergency response plan based on the community’s information and needs.

Phase Four
The plan is finalized and given a trial run through a tabletop exercise in the community.

The process is community led and only happens through community invitation. The final emergency response plan details resources, roles, and responsibilities from leadership-down and household-up viewpoints.

Each plan reflects the unique characteristics and needs of the community including emergency planning for pets and online mapping strategies.

The emergency response plan is a community-designed, living document. With the skills gained through the exercise, the community can continue to refine future responses and strengthen resiliency.

One of the strengths of this strategy is the opportunity it affords communities who have been through a response to share their advice with other communities. What follows are quotes from that advice from different communities:

“Consider housing Elders closer to community as they are first out and last back and will really appreciate being a little closer.”

“We had the children of our community secretly work on a welcome home banner. It occupied their time and gave them ‘end is in sight’ encouragement during a long evacuation. We hung the banner on the way back into the community and it was a popular and emotional selfie stop. An uplifting impact on the community when returning home.”