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NIFSC Team Information

The NIFSC Project 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).

Project Management Team

John Langen, Project Manager, Seconded

John brings considerable project management experience to his role as NIFSC Project manager. He gained this experience during his 35 years in the Canadian Armed Forces (retired at the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel) and the Department of National Defence. John currently resides in Victoria, BC with his wife Michelle Adkins, LLB, Haida of Old Masset Village.

Len Garis, Director of Research, Contracted

Len brings four decades of experience in fire services and academia to the NIFSC Project. With a specialty in evidence-based decision making, Len will be managing all aspects of the approved research program, ensuring academic rigour, while looking for opportunities to enhance the mission of the organization through research and evaluation.

Harmony Johnson, Director of Corporate Development, Contracted

Harmony comes to the NIFSC Project with significant experience in supporting the establishment of non-profit Indigenous institutions and organizations. She also has more than 15 years of experience in executive and senior roles in a BC First Nations organization, with a focus on policy, planning, intergovernmental relations, health and governance. Harmony is developing a corporate plan to describe mandate development, governance and organization design for the developing NIFSC Project.

Director of Program Development: Recruitment in Progress

NIFSC Project Advisory Bodies

AFAC Board of Directors

President

Michelle Vandevord

Saskatchewan Representative

Michelle Vandevord (Day Star Woman) is an active member of the Muskoday First Nation Volunteer Fire Department and is the longest serving female firefighter in the department’s history as well as its first female captain. She started her career in Prince Albert as an officer delivering fire prevention programs to communities and is now the executive director of Saskatchewan First Nation Emergency Management (SFNEM) in Prince Albert. She is a member of the Saskatchewan Fire Chiefs Public Education committee and was recognized by her inclusion in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Rising Star Program. She lives in her community of Muskoday First Nation and is the mother of three daughters and three adopted sons. She is a very proud Kookum to four smart, handsome and funny grandsons.

Melvin McLeod

Ontario Representative

Melvin McLeod lives in Nipissing First Nation, located just west of North Bay, Ontario. He has served Nipissing First Nation Fire Service for almost 30 years. Melvin is proud to work with the Ontario Native Fire Fighters Society (ONFFS) and the AFAC Board, helping to undertake meaningful work. He is grateful for his four children and supportive wife, who enables him to be away from home when duty calls and supports his practice of traditional harvesting activities for moose, deer, and fish.

Vice President

Anthony Moore

British Columbia Representative

Anthony Moore comes from the Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw, located in the Northwest Coast of BC. He is currently employed by Nisga’a Lisims Government as the Emergency Response Services manager. He has been a part of the Gitwinksihlkw Fire Department since 1998 and is a Licensed Emergency Medical Responder. Anthony graduated from the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Responder certificate programs and is continuing his professional development pursuing a Health & Safety Professional certificate from British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

William ‘Billy’ Moffat

Quebec Representative

William Moffat is a Mi’gmaq First Nation from Listuguj, Quebec. A firefighter since 2001, he is passionate about supporting others in achieving excellence. Billy uses his expertise to assist departments and communities in proposal writing and has successfully attained funding and services. He began his career with the Amerindain Police Service in March 1982. He served as a police officer for several years in First Nation communities of Listuguj, Waskaganish and Wemindji. Billy has been the recipient of numerous awards, including Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (2018), the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal (2012) and the Police Exemplary Service Medal (30 years). He takes pride in community-based practices and enjoys serving all First Nations communities.

Secretary/Treasurer

Allan Peters

Collaboration Director

Allan Peters is from Elsipogtog, NB. His emergency services career spans over two decades and includes service as a paramedic, ambulance chief and firefighter. In addition to his role with AFAC, Allan is a New Brunswick Association of Fire Chiefs board member. He applies his fire investigation and inspection expertise in support of improving fire safety in Indigenous communities. Allan loves the sense of achievement from his work and the people that he meets. He lives with his wife and their two dogs.

Executive Director

Blaine Wiggins

From the Bay of Quinte Mohawks in Ontario and raised in the interior of British Columbia. Committed to improving safety on First Nations communities, Blaine has worked with public colleges and led regional and national organizations to bring awareness and support measured progress to address legislative, policy, capacity and resource gaps in First Nations fire and emergency services. With an extensive emergency services background commenced in wildfire, paramedic, municipal firefighting, disaster emergency management officer, and Chief Fire & EMS Officer. Experience also includes major emergency events including major wildfire, community evacuations, pandemic and floods incidents and the 2009 Australia major fatal fires.

Professional experience is complemented by credentials in public administration, computer science, emergency management, extensive fire service credentials and a Masters Degree in Justice and Public Safety.

AFAC Board Project Objectives

  • Utilize Indigenous collaboration in all components of the development and design of the NIFSC Project.
  • Create a sustainable funding model to ensure the NIFSC Project is viable into the future.
  • Collaborate with National Indigenous Organizations.
  • Create a formal organization that has the security of government support.
  • Transition the NIFSC Project portfolio from Indigenous Services Canada to Public Safety Canada.
  • Establish a sustainable and effective Indigenous governance structure.
  • Ensure the NIFSC Project is free of political interference and able to pursue a meaningful Indigenous public safety agenda.

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.

Mandate

The National Advisory Committee (NAC) demonstrates leadership by collaboratively providing concrete governance, organizational development and related advice to the AFAC to support the creation of the NIFSC Project.

Membership

  • The NAC is composed of 10 individuals who represent Indigenous organizations or act independently.
  • The NAC provides a seat for a presiding Elder who contributes to the group as a full member.
  • The NAC includes three seats for National Indigenous Organizations (NIO’s), including the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Métis National Council (MNC) and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK).
  • Two seats are occupied by young Indigenous leaders who have working knowledge of governance related topics.
    Four members are subject matter experts who have credible affiliations to support the work of the NAC.
  • The NAC has instituted a no proxy rule and will ensure that absent members have been provided with a written update within 10 days of the meeting.

Technical Advisory Committee

The role of the Technical 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 TAC has evolved with the development of the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council (NIFSC) Project. The project provides open invitations to participate in the continued development and enhancement of Indigenous fire service standards, steer research and recommend the development of NIFSC programs.

From the beginning, AFAC committed to ongoing engagement and collaboration with regional and national Indigenous organizations to support the design and development of the NIFSC Project. These commitments were formally made before funding was secured by AFAC to initiate the NIFSC Project.

The following Indigenous organizations have an open invitation to participate with the TAC:

  • First Nations Emergency Services Society of BC FNESS (BC)
  • Technical Services Alberta TSAG (AB)
  • Prince Albert Grand Council/Saskatchewan First Nations Emergency Management PAGC/SFNEM (SK)
  • Ontario First Nations Technical Advisory Committee OFNTSC (ON)
  • Nunavut Fire Marshal Office (NT)
  • First Nations National Building Officers Association FNNBOA (National Organization)
  • Assembly of First Nations AFN Housing & Infrastructure (National Organization)
  • Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada AFAC (National Organization)
The Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC) is a united body of regional Indigenous emergency and fire service organizations from across Canada. Each regional organization nominates a representative to sit on the AFAC Board of Directors.

History of the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC)

The Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC) was founded on September 19, 1991 in Portage La Prairie, MB when a group of Indigenous firefighters decided to form a national Aboriginal firefighters association. The association has worked for many years to research and raise awareness of the fire service challenges facing our Indigenous communities.

The association was established to:

  • Represent the interests of these associations nationally.
  • Assist in the exchange of information.
  • Support the implementation of services.
  • Promote national standards in fire prevention, education and suppression within Indigenous communities in Canada.

Four Priorities of AFAC

  • Fire prevention.
  • Legislative standards.
  • Fire Service operations standards.
  • National coordination of fire and emergency services in Indigenous communities.
This strategic approach allows Indigenous communities to close the fire service gap to that of non-Indigenous communities and reach a comparable service level. To achieve these results, AFAC works in collaboration with federal and provincial governments, national fire service organizations and other Indigenous organizations.