By Mina Kerr-Lazenby
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The S?wx?wu7mesh ?xwumixw (Squamish Nation) is one of 57 First Nations and local governments in line to receive funding to improve and update its emergency support services (ESS) for people evacuated from their homes during emergencies.
A $2.2 million contribution from the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) will be dished out to help communities strengthen their ESS, with the Squamish Nation set to receive $29,870.67.
“British Columbians who are forced to evacuate their homes often rely on provincially funded emergency support services that are delivered in partnership with First Nations and local governments,”
said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness in a press release.
“This funding will help communities build up capacity to better deliver these supports to people during very stressful situations as we continue modernising and improving ESS.”
The financial aid can be put towards buying ESS supplies and equipment, training and exercises for ESS responders, responder recruitment and retention activities, and personal protective equipment for ESS responders.
The funds will also help update local ESS programs, expand online services, and promote educational resources.
Some projects in B.C. that will benefit from the funding include an ESS trailer and backup solar power system that will enable McLeod Lake Indian Band to set up a mobile reception centre, and a 100-bed group lodging facility in Abbotsford.
On Bowen Island, the funding will allow for Emergency Pet Services Training to be given through the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team, and the build of a trailer for group lodging, alongside pet services supplies.
Squamish Nation elected council member Sxwixwtn (Wilson Williams) said the Nation commends the government for addressing the demand for better emergency preparedness.
“This funding will help ensure our Nation has critical resources available if our people are facing an emergency situation,” he said.
“We applaud the provincial government for prioritising this need. It will help our Nation to be ready to respond to any future crisis or emergency.”
In February this year, the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness introduced an additional $180 million to the Climate Emergency Preparedness Fund, bringing the overall funding for helping First Nations and local communities prepare for and mitigate the effects of natural disasters to $369 million.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.