Chief Joe Alphonse
WILLIAMS LAKE, BC - May 15, 2018 - The Ts^ilhqot’in Nation welcomes some of the recommendations released last week by the BC Flood and Wildfire Review, but remains disappointed by the lack of opportunity for involvement in the process and outstanding concerns over the rushed timelines. Although the Ts^ilhqot’in have shown significant leadership in this area and their territory was home to the largest wildfires in the Province’s recorded history, no official invitation to participate was received by their Tribal Chairman.
Issues of jurisdiction and governance continue in their territory. As the governing body for more than 3000 of their citizens, they expected that their collective experiences would be documented and utilized to seek solutions for future emergency situations. The BC Fire and Flood Review is incomplete without their contribution, they say.
Individual Ts^ilhqot’in communities and the Ts^ilhqot’in Nation are currently developing their own Wildfire Reports that will provide analysis, recommendations and a review of legal jurisdictions in the case of recognized and asserted Aboriginal title.
Despite concerns over the timelines and process of gathering feedback, the Nation does support some of the recommendations. They will do their part to ensure that the Ts^ilhqot’in expertise contributes to the body of knowledge so all First Nations and levels of government can learn and benefit, making the concrete changes together.
Chief Joe Alphonse Tribal Chairman, Ts^ilhqot’in National Government, says, "As far as the Ts^ilhqot’in Nation is concerned, we were at the frontline of the 2017 wildfires and took a leadership role in escalating the need for change. The BC Flood and Wildfire Review is incomplete without the input of our Nation and our communities. The largest wildfires in BC were in our backyard and at times right in our communities.
"We are identifying our own community, government, policy, protocol and legal solutions. First Nations perspectives cannot be overlooked when it comes to issues of Aboriginal title jurisdiction, local capacity, expertise and improvements to administrative efficiencies. Once complete we will release our own Tsilhqot’in recommendations that will provide a unique perspective not currently in the BC Flood and Wildfire Review."