Government Commitments


Funding will improve cultural safety for Indigenous people during emergencies

January 19, 2024

NationTalk: VICTORIA – Communities across B.C. will receive funding to enhance cultural safety in local emergency management, helping ensure First Nations, Métis and Inuit people are treated with inclusivity and respect during emergencies.

“We have heard that emergency management supports can be delivered in a more culturally safe and inclusive way. Supporting Indigenous people and communities begins with understanding their history and values,” said George Heyman, acting Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “By creating more opportunities for staff and volunteers to learn about cultural safety, we are working toward ensuring Indigenous people feel respected, included and cared for during emergencies.”

The Province is providing approximately $580,000 for 22 local projects under the Indigenous Cultural Safety and Cultural Humility Training stream of the Community Emergency and Preparedness Fund (CEPF). This funding will be used by local governments and First Nations to make emergency management and supports more inclusive of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

Projects include:

  • Cultural safety and humility training will be provided for Town of Smithers staff involved with local emergency management, which is adapted to the cultural aspects and needs of the Wet’suwet’en community.
  • A two-day workshop for Tseshaht First Nation emergency-response staff will focus on the history of residential schools, the effect of displacement on Indigenous Peoples and how to create culturally safe spaces in emergency reception centres.
  • Training for emergency management staff, volunteers and elected officials across the Fraser Valley Regional District will increase understanding of cultural differences, the impact of words, the challenges that communities are grappling with, and recognizing how emergency decisions may systemically impact First Nations.
  • Semá:th First Nation will develop a comprehensive training program to equip people with skills in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism. It will be offered to a range of partners involved in emergency management, which may include emergency responders, local government officials, health-care providers, community volunteers, non-government organizations, education institutions, social workers, and community leaders and Elders.
  • Building cultural competency for collaborative emergency management to bridge gaps between emergency responders, partner agencies and First Nations in the Central Coast Regional District.

“It is crucial that local emergency-management programs and services are centred in cultural safety,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “With this provincial funding, Indigenous people in B.C. will benefit from more inclusive emergency management. These supports are part of B.C.’s work to build a better province where all people can access the services and programs they need.”

The CEPF helps communities to better prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate-related emergencies by funding local projects and initiatives in several categories. These include disaster-risk reduction and climate adaptation, public notification and evacuation-route planning, and emergency-support services equipment and training.

The Province has invested $369 million into the CEPF since it was established in 2017. Approximately $176 million has been provided to First Nations and local governments through the CEPF for more than 1,700 projects.


Teri Kish, emergency services manager, Old Masset Village Council –

“The funding will support the blanket exercise, which will provide an opportunity to experience an empathetic sense of loss of land, way of life and the impacts many Indigenous Peoples deal with to this day, when working with agencies that are not part of the Old Massett community. There will be guidance through a narrative activity of many policies and events that have shaped Canada, in the context of the treatment of the Indigenous Peoples of these lands.”

Jolene Rendolic, community safety co-ordinator, Tsalalh First Nation –

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring our neighbours within our community to share our language, culture, history. While joining our festivities, we can start to create a future relationship with continued collaboration.”

Mindy Ogden, heritage place specialist, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ (Kyuquot) First Nation –

“The Salvaging Sacred Belongings workshop this funding was used for provided community members with the skills they need to recover precious belongings like regalia, drums and masks. In the event of an emergency, we need locals who have these skills, as we are a very remote community. We are looking forward to equipping more community members, including the youth, in the future.”

Chief James Harris, Sq’éwqel​ (Seabird Island Band) –

“This funding has been instrumental in our mission to create a more inclusive approach to emergency mitigation and will allow us to provide 30 staff with San’yas training to effectively engage with Indigenous communities during emergencies, to foster collaboration, understanding and a sense of safety.”

Marli Penner, director, human resources and labour relations, District of Kitimat –

“The District of Kitimat is using this funding to put first responders and emergency-operations centre employees through cultural awareness training that is facilitated by employees from the Haisla Nation’s language and culture department, on whose territory we live. This training, which also encompasses a blanket ceremony, provides employees with a greater understanding of the history and culture of the local Indigenous people, which in turn will aid in providing culturally appropriate response and assistance in emergency events.”

Shelley Morris, deputy fire chief, City of Surrey –

“Through this funding we will engage with local Indigenous communities to strengthen relationships by focusing on advancing our knowledge and understanding of the lived experiences of Indigenous people to develop a safer environment during emergency response and recovery activities. This commitment to enhance mutual trust will lead to improved services and a better outcome for all during and after a disaster.”

Joni Heinrich, chief administrative officer, Village of Chase –

“The Village of Chase is pleased to receive this funding and is excited to engage our emergency-response employees in expanding their understanding of Indigenous culture. We know how important it is to communicate during an emergency clearly and calmly. Having better knowledge of how to respectfully communicate with our Indigenous neighbours will ensure trauma is reduced during emergency situations.”

Jason Lum, board chair, Fraser Valley Regional District –

“This funding provides a valuable opportunity to equip the organization with essential training, ensuring the presence of compassion and cultural awareness during distressing times.”

Trish Mandewo, president, Union of BC Municipalities –

“Training emergency responders in cultural humility is critical for implementing emergency-management plans that are informed by Indigenous knowledge and perspectives. More work is needed to empower all First Nations and local governments to develop plans that are culturally safe and meet the new Emergency and Disaster Management Act requirements. I appreciate the funding that is being provided to these communities and look forward to capacity funding that will support the work.”

Learn More:

For more information about the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund, visit:

To learn more about the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, visit:

A backgrounder follows.


Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness
Media Relations
250 880-6430


What to know about CEPF recipients

The CEPF is administered through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and funds projects that support First Nations and local governments to better prepare for disasters and reduce risks from hazards in a changing climate.

First Nations and local governments throughout British Columbia will receive approximately $580,000 in provincial Community Emergency Preparedness Funds as follows:

Abbotsford – Indigenous cultural safety and humility training
Approved amount: $29,662.5

Armstrong – Emergency-operations centre Indigenous cultural safety and humility training
Approved amount: $8,800

Bulkley-Nechako Regional District – Cultural competence in emergency response
Approved amount: $30,000

Cariboo Regional District – Relationship building for cultural safety and humility: Training program development and implementation
Approved amount: $30,000

Central Coast Regional District – Fostering cultural humility in emergency management
Approved amount: $29,972

Chase – Indigenous safety and humility training
Approved amount: $19,800

Ditidaht First Nation – Ditidaht cultural exploration and record keeping
Approved amount: $29,975

Fraser Valley Regional District – Strengthening Relationships: Collaborative Emergency Management in the Shared Fraser Valley Landscape
Approved amount: $30,000

Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations (Kyuquot) – Salvaging Sacred Belongings – Supporting Our Pace
Approved amount: $17,800

Kent – Emergency Program – Indigenous Training
Approved amount: $7,000

Kitimat – Haisla Nation cultural awareness training
Approved amount: $5,000

Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation – Wehni noh bulh yas-ulhtuk Nak’azdli-led Indigenous cultural safety and humility training framework development
Approved amount: $30,000

North Vancouver District – Regional: Paddling Our Canoe Forward: Connecting Cultural Safety and Resilience Planning on the North Shore
Regional partners: North Vancouver, West Vancouver
Approved amount: $85,300

Old Massett Village Council – Unveiling Canada’s Historical Narratives – Blanket exercise
Approved amount: $16,150

Pacheedaht First Nation – Port Renfrew emergency response
Approved amount: $30,000

Seabird Island Band – Indigenous cultural safety and cultural humility training
Approved amount: $30,000

Semá:th First Nation (Sumas) – Cultural safety and humility pathways in emergency management for Semá:th
Approved amount: $30,000

Smithers – Indigenous cultural safety and cultural humility training
Approved amount: $30,000

Surrey – Indigenous cultural safety and cultural humility training
Approved amount: $30,000

Thompson-Nicola Regional District – Cultural awareness training
Approved amount: $9,300

Tsal’alh First Nation (Seton Lake) – Community cultural safety meeting
Approved amount: $30,000

Tseshaht First Nation – Cultural safety within an emergency-support services reception centre
Approved amount: $20,935.7


Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness
Media Relations
250 880-6430