|UBCIC Calls Upon Provincial and Federal Governments To Take Action During Forest Fire Season
August 6, 2010
Honourable Chuck Strahl
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Honourable George Abbott
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
PO Box 9100STN PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC V8W 9B1
OPEN LETTER: UBCIC CALLS UPON THE PROVINCIAL AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION DURING THE FOREST FIRE SEASON
Dear Minister Strahl and Minister Abbott
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs is urgently writing to your respective offices with great concern regarding the wildfires and lack of an substantial and adequate response from your governments with respect to the safety and health of First Nations in BC, in particular, the Tsilhqot’in communities.
The Tsilhqot’in communities are located in an area where over 85% of the forest has been attacked by the mountain pine beetle which makes the forest a tinder box for forest fires. Currently, as it was last year, Tsilhqot’in communities are surrounded by fires that have been ranked as low priority and are being left to burn. Tsilhqot’in members, in particular Elders, are suffering from smoke inhalation resulting in serious health risks for community members.
Earlier this year, the UBCIC and the First Nations Forestry Council called on the federal government, its Ministers and MPs from BC to be accountable and responsive in dealing with the potential of deadly consequences of the forest fire season. Furthermore, UBCIC finds it completely unacceptable that the Federal and Provincial governments continues to undermine the safety and security of our communities with inadequate funding with respect to the mountain pine beetle epidemic and its contributing factors to forest fires.
With the forest fire season well upon us, the UBCIC calls for the Federal and Provincial governments to take immediate action to ensure that the threat of forest fires to First Nations communities in BC are taken seriously.
In addition, the Governments must honour their duty to protect communities and immediately fund community safety measures due to the mountain pine beetle epidemic including forest fire management and implementation of community emergency plans.
On behalf of the UNION OF BC INDIAN CHIEFS
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chief William Charlie
Chief Bob Chamberlin
BC First Nations Forestry Council