I offer a similar opening statement we have given in the past; “FNESS offers the Annual Report for the larger FNESS family for all First Nations communities that we serve. While the Annual Report is focused upon the previous fiscal year, safety is not fiscal year dependent, but is longer term in nature. Within our mandate, FNESS continues to reinforce our commitment to the First Nations Leadership Council of BC (FNLC) in order to protect the rights, lands, resources, and infrastructure of all communities.”
As we move into another year, this remains valid and will always be enhanced in the interests of continuous improvements. Communities (and FNESS staff) need to be recognized, respected and rewarded for their steadfast and long term enhancements to community safety. FNESS’ collegial, informal, and nimble work environment allows staff to utilize their collective knowledge base and experiences to develop culturally congruent, timely and accessible programs and services for communities.
A Practical Guide to (Structural) Fire Protection will continue to be a focal point for our Fire Services. Also, utilizing a culturally congruent participatory approach, FNESS will collect and analyze ‘updated’ community protection (structural firefighting and emergency management) needs, hazards, and related data to develop customized regional programs for First Nations communities in BC – focusing on fire prevention (e.g., education), risk reduction, fire service operations, and community emergency preparedness. Mental health (CISM) aspects will always be included in service reviews.
Wildfire resilience will take more focus the year ahead, specifically around education, fuels management, legislation & planning, development considerations, interagency partnerships, and cross training. Given the emergency events of this past year as a result of climate change and other factors, the heightened levels of experience and capacity within communities will be critical engagements moving forward.
I commend the First Nations leaders, FNESS Board, and FNESS staff for the admirable efforts and huge time commitments this year past, and their unwavering focus the year ahead.