National Indigenous Fire Safety Council
Conseil national autochtone de la sécurité-incendie

NIFSC Team Information

The NIFSC comprises a management team and has the support of the NIFSC Board of Directors, a National Advisory Committee (NAC) and a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

Management Team

Executive Director

Announcement Pending

Blaine Wiggins

Senior Director IFMS

Originally from the Bay of Quinte Mohawks in Ontario, and raised in the interior of British Columbia, Blaine Wiggins is committed to improving safety in First Nations communities. Blaine has 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 in wildfire, paramedic, municipal firefighting, and disaster emergency management, Blaine has also worked as a Chief Fire and EMS Officer. His experience also includes community evacuations, pandemic and floods incidents, and major emergency wildfire events including the 2009 fatal fire in Australia.

Blaine’s professional experience is complemented by credentials in public administration, computer science, emergency management, extensive fire service credentials and a Master’s Degree in Justice and Public Safety.

Len Garis

Director of Research

Len Garis is the Director of Research for the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council.
He is also the Senior Advisor for the Centre for Social Data Insights and Innovation at Statistics Canada, a retired Fire Chief for the City of Surrey B.C.

An Adjunct Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice & Associate to the Centre for Social Research at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), Associate Scientist Emeritus, BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, a member of the Affiliated Research Faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, and a faculty member of the Institute of Canadian Urban Research Studies at Simon Fraser University.

Len currently resides in Coquitlam.

NIFSC Board of Directors


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 for 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.


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.

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).

Ashley O'Neil

Wildfire Representative

Ashley O’Neil is Ktunaxa Nation on her mother’s side and Metis/Mohawk on her father’s side. She grew up in the Columbia Valley and lives on the Akisqunk reservation located in Windermere/Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia. She is a band member of Aqam First Nation located in Cranbrook, British Columbia.

Ashley started firefighting 15 years ago as a structural firefighter in her hometown and has been a structural firefighter in BC, Saskatchewan and Montana, USA.

In 2018, she was introduced to wildland firefighting and became a firefighter, crew leader, Strick team leader, company manager of ’Neill Consulting Ltd., medic, danger tree assessor and an instructor for wildfire and many other courses in wildfire and forestry training.

She worked in the Cariboo and Kootenay region providing training and recruiting in Indigenous communities.

Erin Myers

Metis National Council Representative

Erin Myers represents the Métis Nation through her role as the Director of Environment, Climate Change and Emergency Management for the Métis National Council. Her role as Director is to advocate nationally and internationally for the inclusion of the Métis in program and policy development, to ensure that the Métis Nation has an active role in environment and emergency management dialogues, and to support Governing Members in advancing their environmental priorities.

Prior to this role, Ms. Myers led the Climate Change and Health Adaptation Program for 13 years, which supports First Nation and Inuit communities in leading their own research to minimize the impacts of climate change and advance Indigenous Climate Leadership.

Ms. Myers is an “Honorary” member of the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement, and most importantly, she is a mother to Gavin and Cullen who remind her to walk gently and respectfully on Mother Earth.

Melvin McLeod

Member at Large

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.

William ‘Billy’ Moffat

Quebec Representative

William Moffat is a member of the Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation in Quebec. A firefighter since 2001, he is committed to helping others achieve excellence.

Billy uses his expertise to help departments and communities draft funding applications and has been successful in securing funding and services. He began his career with the Amerindian Police Service in March 1982.

He worked as a police officer for several years in the First Nations communities of Listuguj, Waskaganish and Wemindji. Billy has received numerous awards, including the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (2018), the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2012) and the Police Exemplary Service Medal (30 years).

He takes pride in implementing community-based practices and enjoys serving all First Nations communities.

Board Objectives

  • Utilize Indigenous collaboration in all components of the development and design of the NIFSC.

  • Create a sustainable funding model to ensure the NIFSC is viable in the future.

  • Collaborate with National Indigenous Organizations.

  • Create a formal organization that has the security of government support.

  • Transition the NIFSC portfolio from Indigenous Services Canada to Public Safety Canada.

  • Establish a sustainable and effective Indigenous governance structure.

  • Ensure the NIFSC 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 NIFSC governance structure, mandate, scope of authority, and scope of programs and services.


The National Advisory Committee (NAC) demonstrates leadership by collaboratively providing concrete governance, organizational development and related advice to NIFSC


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

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)

Staff Members

Adam Samms

National Incident Reporting System (NIRS) Coordinator

Adam has over nine years of experience in leading, managing, and coordinating medium-to-large-scale projects concerning environmental sustainability, renewable energy, and electrical grid infrastructure. He also has ten years of experience in data collection and analysis for multiple environmental sustainability and other engineering projects.

Adam oversees and manages incoming fire incident reports in addition to data validation, database management, data mining, and addressing issues found within data. Adam works closely with the Director of Research to ensure that the findings in the NIRS data are supporting research initiatives, both current and future.

Adam holds multiple degrees from St. Thomas University, Royal Roads University, and the New Brunswick Community College. He also has a Project Management certificate from the University of California Irvine, ICS I-100/ I-200 certificate from the Government of Nova Scotia, and a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System certificate from Transport Canada. Adam also holds an Amateur Radio License from Industry Canada and volunteers with the City of Fredericton and the Emergency Measures Organization as an emergency communications operator.

Arnold Lazare

Deputy Operations Chief, IFMS

As past President of the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC), the parent organization of the NIFSC, and past project lead of the Indigenous Fire Marshal Office, Arnold has advocated for and been an active participant in the creation of the NIFSC.

Arnold serves as liaison to the Canadian Council of Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners, the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, the Canadian Fallen Firefighter Foundation, the First Nations National Building Officers Association, and other similar associations to promote the NIFSC and its goals. As a Program Delivery Specialist with the IFMS, Arnold works mainly within Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, assisting communities to empower themselves through the development, improvement, and implementation of fire safety services.

He has been a member of the Kahnawake Fire Brigade for over 43 years, where he was past Fire Chief (17 years), a paramedic of 35 years (retired), and still active as an engineer and first responder.

He is the Former Director of Public Safety for the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake where he was responsible for all aspects of the Emergency Management Program and has been active in supporting the recent efforts in combatting Covid-19.

As an IFSAC Accredited Instructor with both the Justice Institute of BC and the Ecole Nationale des Pompiers de Quebec (Quebec Fire Academy) Firefighter I & II, Evaluator, Haz Mat Operations, Non-Urban Officer Training and Self Rescue, Arnold has facilitated the training of several hundred firefighters over the years. As an Emergency Management Instructor with the Red Cross and Quebec Indigenous Services, he has worked to ensuring communities are capable of handling emergencies by building self-reliance within.

Arnold resides in Kahnawake Mohawk Nation with his wife.

Daniel Perron

Fire Safety Specialist, IFMS

Daniel has been involved in the fire community since 1980, first in the private enterprise and then in various fire departments in Québec. He took his basic training at the block and module level, prevention training at the École polytechnique de Montréal, managerial training at the Université de Montréal, and response management training at the Montmorency, St-Jean and Chicoutimi Colleges.

Over a 30-year career he has been a fire service manager in four different cities. He was also fire safety advisor to the Quebec department of public safety for six years in the regions of Montérégie, Estrie, Montréal, Laval, the Outaouais and Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean. He has held the position of vice-president, part-time chapter, of the ACSIQ [Quebec association of fire chiefs] for five years and has been a regional director for 12 more years. Chief Perron has also been a member of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs Board of Directors for five years.

He is presently working for the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council as a Fire Safety Specialist in the Indigenous Fire Marshal Service.

Kanoko Nagai

Graphic Designer

Kanoko serves as a Graphic Designer within the Population and Partnership Service at NIFSC (National Indigenous Fire Safety Council). In this role, she is responsible for a wide spectrum of design-related tasks, including brand development, the production of various collateral materials, and the creation of the distinctive branding for the Indigenous Public Safety Conference. She honed her graphic design skills through her education at the Institute of Technology Development of Canada in Vancouver.

Karmen Cozens

Deputy Training Chief & Fire Marshall Service, IFMS

Karmen looks after all aspects of Training including accreditation, registration, program planning and development, partnerships, and moving multiple Strategic Goals forward. Karmen’s career consists of helping people reach new places, whether it’s an educational pursuit, commercial banking, or mediating/conflict resolution. She brings a strong background in Education, working the last 4 years at a First Nation Government in Yukon and over a decade at Camosun College in Victoria, BC. Karmen herself is a lifelong learner, with an Associate Degree in Arts and a bachelor's Degree in Justice Studies from Royal Roads University. As a Civil Mediator for 18 years, she has been a Provincial Civil Court Mediator and runs a private practice. Karmen’s skills and her ability to develop partnerships along with collaborative problem-solving, are beneficial to the workplace. We look forward to her open-minded style and working with her as the Deputy Training Chief.

Leon Smallboy

Deputy Fire Marshal Alberta Region, IFMS

Leon is from Treaty 6 Territory in Maskwacis of Ermineskin Cree Nation and grew up in the Residential School system as a day school student and survivor.

He began his career in the Fire Service in 1991 as a full-time firefighter and eventually became Fire Chief. He has worked in forestry firefighting specializing in Wildland Urban Interface and began working for the NIFSC and IFMS in 2012.

As the Deputy Fire Marshal, Leon supports First Nation firefighters and fire departments in all aspects of the fire discipline and serves as a liaison with other provincial, federal, and territorial governments, fire services, and First Nations and their fire services.

Tamara Chenosky Injates

Administrative Assistant

Tamara is located on the West Coast of Canada, a visitor on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Kwikwetlem, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Squamish, Qayqayt, and Sto:lo Nations. She has respect for the lands and their history and appreciates all opportunities to deepen her understanding of Indigenous peoples and their cultures.

As an Administrative Assistant for the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council, Tamara handles a diverse range of responsibilities. Her location allows for on the ground logistical support, as well as remote work. She is detail-minded and believes in organizational excellence. Tamara is currently assisting with the activities of the National Incident Reporting System (NIRS) team.

Tyler Gary

Communications Coordinator

Tyler is responsible for developing and managing the digital web and social media presence of the NIFSC. He is also responsible for establishing a communication strategy to ensure information is shared with the correct local organizations and First Nations in a timely and effective manner.

Prior to joining the NIFSC, Tyler was the Communications Officer for Serpent River First Nation in Cutler Ontario. Other roles include working as a video editor for the Canadian Football League in Toronto and as an in-studio camera operator and video editor for Rogers Media. He has a Graduate Diploma in Advanced Film Making Studies from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, and resides in Elliott Lake, Ontario.