Jordan Profeit, left, and Jesse Latoski load up a helicopter outside the Charlie Crew base in Whitehorse before leaving on a patrol in 2015. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

First Nation development corporation eyes fire training as business opportunity

Da Daghay Development Corp. wants to privatize training by 2019

The Ta’an Kwäch’än Council’s Da Daghay Development Corporation wants the Yukon to privatize training for wildland firefighters in the territory.

Ben Asquith, the development corporation’s CEO says territorial bureaucracy has so far kept the corporation from expanding.

Da Daghay plans to send some of its staff Outside for specialized training on how to administer nationally-certified fire training courses. The hope is to convince the Yukon government to hand over the reins for all wildland fire training next year, he said.

“At the beginning of the season, Yukon government, the management, is trying to focus on getting ready for the fire season,” Asquith said. “What we can do is help them by offering this training so that they don’t really have to worry about it at that point. They can worry about the logistical side.”

There are approximately 85 wildland fire fighters in the territory, said Mike Etches, the Yukon’s director of wildland fire.

Thirteen of the territory’s First Nations have contracts to provide four-person crews to fight fires. The remaining firefighters are employees of the Department of Community Services.

Each year returning firefighters need to re-certify and newcomers have to take their own set of courses.

The Da Daghay Development Corporation has been training firefighters in some re-certification courses for about five years.

For the last two years the corporation has been running the Beat the Heat bootcamp. The bootcamp gives prospective firefighters a chance to learn more about the job. Representatives from multiple First Nations also administer some of the courses returning firefighters need to take to order to be re-certified each year.

“I think the results speak for themselves,” Asquith said. “Last year YG hired nine out of our bootcamp.”

Even after the bootcamp both new and returning firefighters have to take additional courses with the Yukon government.

In other jurisdictions across Canada, third-party trainers are brought in to train firefighters, Asquith said. In the Yukon, most of the Yukon government trainers are Yukon government employees.

Asquith doesn’t have a breakdown of how much a private training service would cost but he’s convinced that giving control over to Da Daghay would save the government money.

“Bottom line, if you look at the true cost of what it would cost Yukon government with all their employees doing … that training, including equipment, time, renting out a location and all that,” Asquith said, Da Daghay is able to do it all “more efficiently and effectively.”

He said the corporation is not looking to take away jobs.

“We’re looking at this as a growth industry.”

Asquith said handing over all the training to a First Nation development corporation is in line with Yukon Liberal government promises.

“We have the premier saying, ‘we’re in the business of getting out of business.’ So our pitch is let us help you do that,” he said.

“We’ve proven to you that this is a successful model, this hits home with exactly what’s in the mandate letters — providing jobs in the communities, healthy jobs in the communities. It will save taxpayer money, bottom line.”

Asquith said currently, the Yukon government won’t allow the development corporation to offer more courses “because Yukon government wants that control and they want to keep that in house.”

“Basically that’s why we’re going out, outside the territory, to get that actual formal stamp from a nationally recognized organization.”

Etches said it’s not about control. He said training wildland firefighters is done “in collaboration” with Yukon First Nations.

Yukon government helps out at the Beat the Heat bootcamp and a representative from Da Daghay Development Corporation helps with one of the Yukon government’s courses, he said.

“It’s a big job and at this point we do it collaboratively and that’s been a good model for us.”

Etches said the Yukon government doesn’t certify individual trainers. “We certify the actual end product, the crew members, the crew leaders, we don’t certify the instructors per se. We follow national training standards.”

Etches said the government has to make sure that national standards are being followed.

“That (way), we can say as an employer, an exporter of resources, that everyone meets those certification.”

For one course last year the government had 15 instructors offering different classes, he said.

Asquith estimates the development corporation is going to get about four staff members trained to be trainers.

“From the Yukon government’s perspective, we don’t talk about privatization of a government responsibility,” Etches said. “But as a collaborator, we’re doing it now, we’re working together to train our staff and to make them really good firefighters.”

For his part, Community Services Minister John Streicker said he needs to know more about what the development corporation is proposing.

“If they’re interested in doing more then I’m happy to sit down and have that conversation with them about that.”

In the meantime the development corporation plans to expand in other ways.

Da Daghay has 20 employees trained as firefighters who will sometimes get sent out to help other First Nations fulfill their contracts.

This summer the development corporation plans to apply for firefighting contracts outside of the territory.

“They could be a strike force team leader, they could be a squad boss, they could be a crew leader, they could be a crew member, they could be a whole bunch of different things,” Asquith said.

“You could send them out as an individuals, you could send them out in teams of three, teams of four…. You can send those guys out across North America.”

The corporation also plans to start a new “reserves” program. The program, scheduled to start this summer, will offer a chance to get some firefighting training to become firefighters who don’t work on the front lines of active blazes.

Reserves will also work on other activties around the community, Asquith said.

“They’re going to be doing community-based projects during that time. We’re trying to give them life skills. We want to incorporate entrprenurship.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Da Daghay Development Corp.FirefightingWildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kwanlin Dün First Nation chief Doris Bill holds up a signed copy of the KDFN <em>Lands Act</em> agreement during an announcement at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse on Oct. 20. Under the new act, called Nan kay sháwthän Däk’anúta ch’e (We all look after our land) in Southern Tutchone, KDFN will be able to allot citizens land to build their own houses on, for example, or to use for traditional activities. The First Nation will also be able to enforce laws around things like land access and littering. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s Lands Act comes into force

The act gives the First Nation the authority to manage, protect and enforce laws on its settlement lands

Two doctors in Watson Lake say they are at risk of losing their housing due to a Yukon Housing Corporation policy that only allows one pet per family. (Wikimedia Commons)
Healthcare workers in Watson Lake say housing pet policy could force them to leave

The Yukon Housing Corporation has threatened evictions for having more than one pet

The Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services building in Whitehorse on March 28, 2019. Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed for good say they were relieved to hear that the Yukon RCMP has undertaken a forensic audit into the now-defunct NGO’s financial affairs. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former Many Rivers board members relieved to hear about forensic audit, wonder what took so long

Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed… Continue reading

Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. The Yukon Employees’ Union and Yukon Hospital Corporation are at odds over whether there’s a critical staffing shortage at the territory’s hospitals. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
YEU, Yukon Hospital Corp. at odds over whether hospitals are understaffed

YEU says four nurses quit within 12 hours last week, a claim the YHC says is “inaccurate”

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, Ray Hartling and Mark Lange, have filed a class action against the jail, corrections officials and Yukon government on behalf of everyone who’s been placed in two restrictive units over the past six years. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Class action filed against Whitehorse Correctional Centre over use of segregation

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates have filed a class action against… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

asdf
EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Most Read