About the NIFSC
for us, by us
The National Indigenous Fire Safety Council is the result of a new Indigenous developed framework designed to support Indigenous communities in development of their internal capacity to support community safety and resiliency. NIFSC is Indigenous-inspired, designed and led in collaboration with regional and national Indigenous communities, organizations and leaders.
What is the purpose of the NIFSC?
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 NIFSC was created by the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC)
The AFAC Board of Directors was committed to the inclusion of all Indigenous Peoples, which was central to the development of the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council (NIFSC). On April 1, 2022, the inaugural NIFSC Board of Directors was established in place of AFAC.
The governance goal of the NIFSC is to reflect all Indigenous Peoples and it will rely on the National Advisory Committee and collaboration with national Indigenous organizations to meet that goal.
AFAC started the NIFSC 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 to improve FN community safety.
Strategic goals and objectives are free of political influence.
Promote Indigenous fire service careers and training.
How Does the Council Work?
The NIFSC 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 was to receive input from Indigenous communities. What we heard is that change is wanted, change is needed. The NIFSC team is working to bring about that change in collaboration with communities and existing organizations. The NIFSC team continues to reach out to constituents to seek feedback on programs as they are developed.
Who is involved in the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council?
The Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC) manages the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council, 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 a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
AFAC Board of Directors
Michelle Vandevord – President & Saskatchewan Representative
Melvin McLeod – Vice-President & Ontario Representative
Allan Peters – Secretary/Treasurer & Collaboration Director
Anthony Moore – Director & British Columbia Representative
William ‘Billy’ Moffat – Director & Quebec Representative
Nathan Wright – Executive Director
National Advisory Committee
The role of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) is to advise the AFAC on the NIFSC governance structure, mandate, the scope of authority and scope of programs and services.
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
Technical Advisory Committee
The role of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is to provide the NIFSC 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 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
NIFSC Programs for Indigenous Communities
Fire Prevention and Public Education
Creation of culturally-relevant programs that benefit all community members.
Support for Governance
Provide expertise to Indigenous governance and leadership at the regional/national level.
Research to reduce fire incidents through infrastructure and data collection.
Community Fire Services
Support in providing a range of fire, public safety, and community infrastructure services.
Support access to and rates for individual and community infrastructure insurance.
Wildfire Interface Response
Integrated community-based fire services to engage in national fire incidents.
Ensure opportunities for funding, equipment, fire prevention initiatives, and training.
Indigenous-specific research with national agencies and provincial Fire Marshal/Fire Commissioner offices.
Indigenous Fire Service Employment
Increased employment opportunities for Indigenous Peoples.