Your Voice Was Heard: Outcomes from the IFMO Community Engagement Sessions
After a busy and successful fall hosting eight community engagement sessions across the country, the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC) has released the Indigenous Fire Marshal Office (IFMO) Project Community Engagement Sessions Outcomes Report. These community sessions were an opportunity for community representatives to gather and share their voices to help bring about positive changes for Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast. The sessions examined three topic areas:
- Governance Models
- Programs and Services
- Managing Expectations
In the lead-up to community engagement sessions, individual communities and organizations were contacted and a total of 288 participants attended the sessions. Representatives were from a diverse range of leadership roles, both formal and informal, and included adults of all ages.
What did we hear from participants?
It came as no surprise that the consensus was that the current provision of fire services for Indigenous communities is inadequate. However, participants were optimistic about the positive changes that the IFMO project is seeking to achieve.
As with any new project, there was some skepticism. Some participants were unsure how a new organization would fit with existing progress in their communities and were concerned that their own funding might be impacted.
The need to continue to create awareness and communicate with communities about the project was a recurring theme. Participants agreed that they have an important role to play in communicating the project to their communities and networks.
As an organization ‘for us, by us,’ participants feel that the IFMO should be non-political and representative of national diversity.
What’s next for the IFMO project?
One consistent message throughout the community engagement sessions was that the organization should create and begin delivering programs and services as soon as possible. AFAC is moving the IFMO project to the next phase with project activities in the following areas:
- Community Fire Safety Assessment: Evaluations of full community fire safety related resources and risks with the goal of developing a baseline in every community.
- Database Creation: Development of a tool that will capture fire incident data from Indigenous communities.
- Education: Reach school children, Elders, and women’s groups specifically to address the fire safety needs of the most vulnerable populations.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, which will highlight the outcomes of the discussions on Governance Models for the IFMO project.