Truth, Reconciliation and Fire Service Leadership
On Monday September 13, 2021, Jeremy Parkin, NIFSC Director of Program Development/TAC Coordinator, co-presented an hour-long session at the 2021 Fire Rescue Canada Conference. The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) and the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council were pleased to host this session, titled Truth and Reconciliation in the Fire Service.
During his session, Jeremy spoke of the importance of non-Indigenous fire services understanding the Truth and Reconciliation report and what reconciliation means. Jeremy and his co-presenter Anna Everett discussed the need for awareness and understanding for all Canadians in addressing Canada’s history. They provided insight into how a fire service can understand their role in reconciliation and how being a better neighbour, ally, and advocate can impact fire safety in First Nation communities.
Tina Saryeddine, Executive Director of the CAFC, explains that:
The purpose of the session was to describe how a fire department can demonstrate its commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. The session was opened by the Honourable Murray Sinclair. Chief Keri Martens, CAFC Board Member and CAFC Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee Chair, and Chief Arnold Lazare, newly named volunteer department Fire Chief of the Year by CAFC and Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS), co-chaired the session. Speakers Chief Jeremy Parkin, Rama Fire Rescue Service and NIFSC Director of Programs, and Anna Everett, former Deputy Chief, Paramedic, and current Master of Leadership candidate at Royal Roads University discussed section 57 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, which is most relevant to fire departments under municipal jurisdiction. Set in the context of tragic rates of death and injury from fire in Indigenous communities, their talk assisted departments in primarily non-Indigenous communities understand mechanisms to assist sisters and brothers in all communities. The presentation was a demonstration of Two-Eyed Seeing, which integrates both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. Resources were provided to departments that would enable a fire department to continue their commitments to Truth and Reconciliation. A question-and-answer period followed.
The Fire-Rescue Canada 2021 conference, held virtually on September 13 and 14, focused on networking, best practices, achievements and experiences that inspire, inform, and move the fire service forward. Participants were able to attend six plenary sessions and CAFC Committee Open Houses.