About the NIFSC

For us, by us

The National Indigenous Fire Safety Council (NIFSC) Project is the result of a new Indigenous developed framework designed to support Indigenous communities in the development of their internal capacity to improve community safety and resiliency. The NIFSC Project is Indigenous inspired, designed and led in collaboration with regional and national Indigenous communities, organizations and leaders.

NIFSC Project Benefits for Indigenous Communities

Fire Prevention and Public Education

Creation of culturally-relevant programs that benefit all community members.

Community Fire Services

Support in providing a range of fire, public safety, and community infrastructure services.

Regional Support

Ensure opportunities for funding, equipment, fire prevention initiatives, and training.

Support for Governance

Provide expertise to Indigenous governance and leadership at the regional/national level.

Insurance

Support access to and rates for individual and community infrastructure insurance.

Research

Indigenous-specific research with national agencies and provincial Fire Marshal/Fire Commissioner offices.

Incident Reporting

Research to reduce fire incidents through infrastructure and data collection.

Wildfire Interface Response

Integrated community-based fire services to engage in national fire incidents.

Indigenous Fire Service Employment

Increased employment opportunities for Indigenous Peoples.

There are five main project areas:

one

Governance & Corporate Development

Will establish the NIFSC Project as an independent, Indigenous-run organization that is mandated to improve fire safety for Indigenous Peoples and communities across the country.

two

Research

Find opportunities to enhance the organization’s goals while ensuring program development is based on evidence.

three

Program Development

Work with communities to identify individual needs and develop appropriate programs.

four

Program Delivery

Test, deliver, monitor, and evaluate all programs over a two-year period.

five

National Incident Reporting System

Used to capture data, identify trends, and share fire prevention, training and standards resources, allowing for the development of programs that will have the most positive impact.

The Indigenous Fire Marshal Service (IFMS) is the delivery arm of the NIFSC. IFMS Delivery Specialists work with communities to deliver programs to meet the communities’ needs. They are fire service experts that are certified and experienced who can provide technical support and advice on program development. Delivery Specialists can directly deliver programs in communities, support communities and their members to deliver programs within their communities and support the self-delivery of selected programs.

Why do we need the NIFSC Project?

To create a national approach to fire safety in Indigenous communities. A few of the reasons that fire safety within Indigenous communities needs to be addressed are:

  • There is currently no national fire protection act that mandates fire safety standards or enforcement.
  • There is no mandated enforcement of occupational health and safety.
  • Houses and capital infrastructure are not subject to a national building inspection process.

The Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC) Created the NIFSC Project

The AFAC Board of Directors is committed to the inclusion of all Indigenous Peoples in its current inception and in the planning and development of the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council (NIFSC). The AFAC Board is undergoing governance changes that will include extending invitations to Inuit and Métis peoples to serve on the current AFAC Board and participate in the strategic direction and development of the NIFSC. The governance goal of the NIFSC is to reflect all Indigenous Peoples and will rely on the National Advisory Committee and collaboration with national Indigenous organizations to meet that goal.

AFAC started the NIFSC Project with the following goals:

  • Create a new organization through Indigenous collaboration – for us, by us.
  • Create an Indigenous governed organization whose structure receives sustainable funding to operate and serve FN communities.
  • Collaborate with existing Indigenous organizations providing support to FN communities and not accept any existing funding targeted for another Indigenous organization.
  • Establish standards and programs that are relevant to FN communities’ needs and (through validation) improve community safety.
  • Create a national reporting system that will serve improving FN community safety.
    Strategic goals and objectives are free of political influence.
  • Promote Indigenous fire service careers and training.

How Does the Project Work?

The NIFSC Project is responsive, meaning as a community’s capacity increases, the programs offered will become more sophisticated.

In 2019/20, the main effort of the NIFSC Project was to receive input from Indigenous communities. What we heard is that change is wanted, change is needed. The NIFSC Project team is working to bring about that change in collaboration with communities and existing organizations. The NIFSC Project team continues to reach out to constituents to seek feedback on programs as they are developed.

NIFSC Project Team

Who is involved in the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council Project?

The Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC) manages the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council Project, dedicated to providing Indigenous communities with the tools needed to be healthy and safe. It is made up of a project management team and has the support of the AFAC Board of Directors, a National Advisory Committee (NAC), and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

AFAC Board of Directors

Michelle Vandevord – President & Saskatchewan Representative

Anthony Moore – Vice-President & British Columbia Representative

Allan Peters – Secretary/Treasurer & Collaboration Director

Melvin McLeod – Director & Ontario Representative

William ‘Billy’ Moffat – Director & Quebec Representative

Blaine Wiggins – Executive Director

National Advisory Committee

The role of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) is to advise the AFAC on the NIFSC Project’s governance structure, mandate, scope of authority and scope of programs and services.

Technical Advisory Committee

The role of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is to provide the NIFSC Project team with technical advice on the development and delivery of fire safety programs. It is made up of professionals working in the fire safety industry. The role of the advisory committee is to support the establishment of national indigenous fire service standards, support the direction and parameters of research, identify emerging public safety issues and provide a national forum for Indigenous fire service to collaborate and share information. The TAC is the first forum that allows all Indigenous fire service organizations to collaborate.

The National Advisory Committee members, their roles and affiliations are:

Mike Mitchell, Elder

Roberta Oshkabewisens,  Elder

Erin Myers with the Metis National Council

Irving LeBlanc with the Assembly of First Nations Housing and Infrastructure

Angel Beardy, Independent Youth

Sean Vanderklis, Independent Millennial

Dan George, Independent Former Firefighter

Debbie Pierre with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en

George Cox with the Cree Nation Government

Harvey McCue with the First Nations Housing Professionals Association

Michelle Vandevord with Saskatchewan First Nations Emergency Management

Voting membership of the TAC is comprised of the following invited organizations:

First Nations Emergency Services Society, primary contact is Dean Colthorp

First Nations Technical Services Advisory Group Inc. (Alberta), primary contact is Vaughn Paul

Saskatchewan First Nations Emergency Management & Protective Services, primary contact is Michelle Vandevord

Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation, primary contact is Bryan Staats

First Nations National Building Officers Association, primary contact is Keith Maracle

Nunavut Fire Marshal, primary contact is Ted Clouter

Assembly of First Nations, primary contact is Irving Leblanc

Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada, primary contact and facilitator is Jeremy Parkin

Indigenous Services Canada, primary contact is Todd Keesey