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Preparing Our Home:

Voices from Indigenous communities.

“This week has been really good medicine”.
Watch Ashiele Neawanna, a youth leader from Ahousaht First Nation as she shares her insights on how community preparedness can be best built in a fun active way to encourage the young ones in the community to be more prepared. Featuring beautiful photography by Ashiele of Ahousaht medicine such as berries, plants, beaches, and water.

Watch this beautiful video interview with Angelique Belcourt, Métis Anishnaabe Youth from Georgian Bay Métis Community: “Coming from different territories, this event made me think about emergency preparedness in our communities. Many of us have not even considered these things. We know there are occurrences and that our communities are vulnerable to those kinds of experiences. But now knowing that these are real things and that there are huge discrepancies in our community, for me, I am leaving this space [thinking] I need to take this responsibility because I feel no one else is and I don’t even know who I can count on or who I can reach out to about these kind of concerns”

Watch Theresa Mackenzie Whiskeyjack and Joshua Highway as they share their lessons learned about the importance of culture for emergency management and how stepping outside of your comfort zone helps you grow. As Theresa shared: “Everything that we learned here, and basic survival skills, it is in our Spirit. Our Spirit knows that. So if you can re-connect to that, you will have that connection and stability in your life”

As Joshua shared: “Coming out here, I did not know what to expect… but I learned a lot, and I put myself out there. It is just taking that first step to go out of your comfort zone and take a risk. Chances are you will grow in more ways than one“. Featuring original lyrics that Joshua shared for the first time publicly at the 2020 gathering. Kudos Joshua for taking that first brave step and then the next one.

Watch the brilliant Santana Dreaver, Kinistin Saulteaux Nation and Mistawasis Nehiyawak as she shares her insights on the role of youth for emergency management: “Being a political science major, the biggest thing I am taking away from this week is that there is a lot of work to be done in the policy and administration sectors in emergency management in Canada…Emergency management seems like such an intimidating field of work, it’s kind of like “for the adults”, but seeing a bunch of youth from around the country do such amazing work I am definitely inspired to take back what I learned to my own community

Meet Shalyn Pigeon, Ashcroft Indian Band as she shares the story of community recovery from the devastating 2017 fires in BC . As a recovery co-manager, Shalyn gave two years of her life to lead her community through the difficult, exhausting, but critically important recovery process. In this video Shalyn shares practical advice for initiating the recovery process in Indigenous communities, the importance of cultral recovery, community inventories of assets and the financial function of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). Shalyn kudos to you for this amazing leadership.

Meet Neebin Prince as she shared her advice on how “you decide what will make your life story a beautiful one”. Featuring stunning images by Devin Naveau who was inspired to step up as a photographer for the Mattagami First Nation after hearing Melody J Charlie’s story about her visual storytelling career at our gathering last year.

Meet Sheri Lysons, a mother, a grandmother, and the Deputy Fire Chief for the Adams Lake Indian Band: “I am an ordinary human that will be able to do extraordinary things”

Meet Astokomii Smith, a Siksika youth leader who is a part of the ESS committee as the Indigenous Liaison for the Town of Strathmore, AB. “Culture makes me feel safe “

Who are the people on the frontlines of Indigenous health and wellness? Meet Brooklyn Minarik with Mattagami First Nation Health as she shares her passion for Indigenous health and emergency management. Eileen Boissoneau, what an amazing team you have!



Preparing Our Home Gathering 2018

Every year, Indigenous leaders across Canada gather together for the Preparing Our Home gathering. This special week is filled with Nation to Nation learning about community resilience practices, cooking together, and laughing together. The participants also get to carve a paddle as a way of connecting to each other and the shared culture of respecting water and connecting through waterways. See more about paddle carving here –

Meet Darlene Munro, Siksika Elder and the first female Chief in Treaty 7 shares stories and lessons learned from the 2013 flood disaster in Siksika Nation. Darlene, who herself was evacuated, started as a night shift volunteer at the community complex and went on to create the Dancing Deer Disaster Recovery Centre to address long-term recovery needs of the evacuees. As a program, we are very fortunate be able to lean on Darlene’s wisdom as part of our Advisory Circle:

Get inspired by this story of capacity building at the Mattagami First Nation told by Councillor and Firefighter Devin Naveau. Within two years, under the leadership of Wilbert Wesley, the Mattagami First Nation has developed an active fire department, regularly trained to fight fires and search and rescue. The department is also responsible for incident response on Highway 144 and responding to events in the neighbouring town.

Watch Councillor Chris Gareau, the Key First Nation share his inspiring career from a small rural farming community to the Canadian Armed Forces to becoming a Councillor in his community: “The most important thing to me for our community is health. Because without heath, what do you have? How do we address the childhood trauma? How do we work together to escape lateral violence that is plaguing our communities with opioid crisis, alcoholism, and the residual effects of the residential schools? How do we move forward towards a healthy future?

Listen as Dylan Dolha, Indigenous Youth Intern, Emergency Management British Columbia shares his wisdom on what emergency management is all about, on why it is important for youth voices to be heard, and why it is important to be prepared.
“Emergency management is about resilience; it is about being prepared for the unexpected.
Youth voices are not necessarily heard or voiced properly in certain settings. Experiencing this workshop really opened my eyes to the importance and the truth and the voices of youth and the stories that they share. Being prepared to anything, it does not have to be an emergency, just having the tools in your hand to do anything in your life will set anyone better for success.”

Watch Kyle Gloade, Millbrook First Nation share his insights on how to connect emergency preparedness and Traditional Knowledge:
“Connecting emergency preparedness and Traditional Knowledge is right in our stories, in our language… If you look back at our stories and what our language tells us about the times of years and different things that go on, it becomes really apparent what we need to be prepared for”.

Meet Michelle Vandevord, a mother, a firefighter, and Manager, Saskatchewan Emergency Protective Services, First Nations Emergency Management. You can learn more about Michelle’s inspiring career in this article:

Watch Alanna Fawn Syliboy, Community Liaison Officer, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq share how she bridges scientific and Indigenous knowledge through two-eyed seeing in her daily work.

Watch Marcellina Rupert Peltier, Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, as she shares her dream to become a paramedic.

When the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq created the Climate Action Emergency Management Officer position a few years ago, it was one of the very first of its kind across Canada. Watch Amber MacLean-Hawes who has been leading this work over the past few years share her perspectives on connecting climate action and emergency management.

Watch Casey Gabriel, a volunteer, an educator, a firefighter, a cook, and most recently the Lil’wat Nation’s Youth Centre Coordinator share his work on developing the Preparing Our Home curriculum at the Xet̓ólacw Community School!

What is it like to live in a community that floods every year? Watch Matthew James McCorrister, Peguis First Nation share his experience as a flood surveyor assistant and a youth volunteer in his community.

Watch Sarah Robinson, a proud citizen of the Fort Nelson First Nation and the Saulteau First Nation in Treaty 8 territory. Sarah is a member of “Preparing our Home” Advisory Group and her talk on “Indigenous Women and the Story of Canada’ was part of #WalrusTalks National Tour kick-off event in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Mia Francis, Akwesasne Youth Council, Ahkwesahsne Mohawk Board of Education is working hard every day to support 500 youth in navigating their post-secondary education and careers. Watch Mia share her perspectives on the importance of working together for community well-being: “We all have to become one in order to heal and move forward”. Mia also shares how her radical T-shirt collection empowers her, gives her a voice and sparks important conversations.

Gearing up for Emergency Preparedness week

Watch our program video! Footage by and of the youth in their communities.

What would you do to make your community more resilient?

This video by Kaileigh Taylor starring Leanne John was entered as part of the Global Youth Video Challenge for the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas.

Watch the video:

Filmed on location: Ahousaht First Nation, British Columbia, Canada

Know your hazards!

Watch youth from the Líl̓wat Nation identify numerous hazards that can harm their community during the “Preparing our Home” workshop at the Xet̓ólacw Community School

Watch the video:

Listen to Eric Taylor talk about his community:

Watch Casey Gabriel from Lil’wat talk about volunteering and emergency management in the Lil’wat Nation