When a tsunami alarm sounded in the Nitinaht Region a couple years ago, Ditidaht First Nation members didn’t know the evacuation routes, recalled Janeen Hunt, Ditidaht First Nation administrator.
It was a wake up call for the nation, who began working on an emergency plan in response.
In a move to help First Nations communities and local governments with their emergency preparedness, $4.2 million in funding has been allocated to over 100 communities across the province, according to a release by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
Tla-o-qui-ath First Nation, Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations, Ditidaht First Nation and Nuchatlaht First Nation each received around $25,000.
The communities are using the funding for various initiatives designed to help them prepare for – and respond to – disasters.
"When it comes to emergencies in B.C., it's not a matter of if one will happen, but when,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, in the release. “This funding is another step we're taking as a government to help communities be ready for when disaster strikes."
The funding, which is administered by the Union of BC Municipalities, arrived at a time when local governments are reflecting on their emergency preparedness in the wake of COVID-19.
At the beginning of the pandemic, no staff or community members within Ditidaht First Nation knew the Emergency Management BC protocols, said Hunt.
“We need to gain that perspective and that education and training.”
Ditidaht First Nation will use the government funding towards modernization training and a trailer, which will hold all of the nation’s emergency supplies at their tsunami evacuation site.
"In B.C., local and First Nations governments lead the initial response to emergencies and disasters in their communities,” said Mike Farnworth, minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in the release. “This funding will help give them the tools necessary to make sure everyone in B.C. impacted by an emergency is looked after and kept as safe as possible."