“It’s a win-win situation.”
This is how Wesley Barrett, a policy analyst with Carcross/Tagish First Nation, describes the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) on wildland fire management the First Nation inked with the Yukon government last month.
The agreement will see increased funding and resources to combat wildfires and for local FireSmart initiatives.
Among the MOU’s measures, the territorial government will create a new three-person initial attack fire crew, which will promptly respond to early-stage fires with the aim of extinguishing them within 24 hours.
And while the hiring process for the new seasonal wildfire-fighting crew will be overseen by the territorial government, it could provide employment opportunities for citizens of Carcross/Tagish First Nation.
“They’re going to make a Yukon government initial attack crew. So, if any of our citizens end up being on that crew, they’ll end up becoming permanent Yukon seasonal employees,” Barrett tells the News.
The MOU will also see the release of additional funding to help FireSmart subdivisions on traditional territory.
“[In the past], we ended up getting about $20,000 every year, and with the new MOU, we should get another $70,000 annually towards FireSmart,” Barrett said.
Once FireSmarting of the community is completed, additional funding may be redirected to increase the working season for fire crew members by two months. Currently, crew leaders are employed for six months each year, while crew members work for four months.
“I hope other First Nations can see what we are doing with the Yukon government for the initial attack fire crew, because doing something similar will only benefit their citizens,” Barrett said.
News of the agreement comes as communities across Canada have dealt with an early start to wildfire season. Earlier this month, out-of-control fires began raging across northern and central Alberta. This week, fires in Nova Scotia put thousands of homes under evacuation orders and resulted in Halifax issuing a local state of emergency.
Contact Matthew Bossons at firstname.lastname@example.org