Evidence of meeting #88 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was community.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Ryan Day  Chief, Bonaparte Indian Band
Ann Louie  Chief, Williams Lake Indian Band
Tammy Cook-Searson  Chief, Lac La Ronge Indian Band
Ronald E. Ignace  Chief, Skeetchestn Indian Band
Chief Alvin Fiddler  Grand Chief, Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Michael McKay  Director, Housing and Infrastructure, Nishnawbe Aski Nation
John Hay  Fire Chief, Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

All right, I have on the list that questioning now goes to MP Bossio.

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

The fire marshal is exactly what I want to talk about.

You mentioned the four pillars that you're establishing in your own community. Improving fire safety involves greater fire safety education. It also involves access to emergency equipment, updated building codes, expanded training, community infrastructure, etc.

How can your community be supported better in the future with access to the resources you need? Do they see the fire marshal's office playing a pivotal role in helping to define the processes and the requirements and the capacity for fire safety?

I would invite Chief Fiddler or John, or whoever wants to take that on. That would be great. Thank you.

1:10 p.m.

Grand Chief, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler

Obviously the fire marshal's office would be a part of that strategy. If you read our document that we submitted to the committee earlier today, it spells out some of the things we want to do immediately. At the same time, there are some long-term issues that we need to address together.

That's why we're here today. It's to ask you for your support in rolling this out.

1:10 p.m.

Fire Chief, Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

John Hay

I believe that a fire marshal for indigenous communities would be helpful for first nation communities. Really, I'd be a little jealous. There is no fire commissioner or fire marshal for Canada. That's been brought up a number of times in other venues.

Yes, if it's there and it's coordinated, and the structure is approved by the people receiving the benefits of it, I think it would go a long way towards building that resilience in all the communities, not just the Ontario ones. Right now, I'm with the Amber campaign, and that's Ontario.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mike, did you want to add to that?

1:15 p.m.

Director, Housing and Infrastructure, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Michael McKay

Yes, I agree that it would be beneficial.

The other thing that pertains to that is the establishment of funding that is needs-based instead of one that's formula-based. That's one thing we've flagged in this process. The formula hasn't changed in I don't know how many years. The training that's part of their operation and maintenance funding is still at $20 a head. That's something that also could be reviewed, as well as establishing a sustainable fire department at the community level.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

As far as the fire marshal's office being able to establish standards is concerned, whether it's fire safety standards, building code standards, sprinklers, as John said, do you see that playing a valuable role within your own community? We realize each community has its own unique challenges, but how about as far as helping communities to establish those standards?

1:15 p.m.

Grand Chief, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler

There should at least be a base that we all agree on in terms of what those standards should look like or what they can look like.

Right now, at least in our territory, there's an utter lack of any type of standard. For example, Mike talked about our schools, and right now they don't even do fire drills. To me it's shocking that in this day and age we would allow that to happen.

It's basic things that I think we want to begin to address.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Does the school even have a sprinkler system?

1:15 p.m.

Grand Chief, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler

We don't know that, because there are no standards.

I spoke with the minister this morning on NAPS, our police service. Again, there are no standards in our detachment. Everything is program based, and that's what we need to change.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Are there building code standards right now? Is there a building code inspector?

1:15 p.m.

Grand Chief, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

So it's establishing the standards, and then also establishing the training regimen as well, to ensure that you have trained indigenous individuals who can oversee and enforce those standards.

1:15 p.m.

Grand Chief, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Yes, and it's—

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Vice-Chair Conservative Cathy McLeod

You have 30 seconds.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Okay.

Is there anything you would like to add regarding what establishing a fire marshal could do for your own community moving forward?

1:15 p.m.

Director, Housing and Infrastructure, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Michael McKay

One thing we did recommend was to explore the development of a trilateral process to provide equitable fire protection and prevention services in our communities. There are a lot of things we need to look at, like I was talking about with that funding.

One of our main goals of the campaign was to provide smoke detectors. With our partners, INAC, they were able to provide the purchase and delivery of smoke protectors, but they didn't provide phase two of it, which was the installation piece.

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

The implementation.

1:15 p.m.

Director, Housing and Infrastructure, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Michael McKay

Yes, and inventory of that. We were told that our communities, our fire departments, should be able to do that. My question was, what fire departments?

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Vice-Chair Conservative Cathy McLeod

Thank you.

The last five minutes will go to the NDP's Sheila Malcolmson.

December 5th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Thank you, Chair.

I was elected in British Columbia. Some of the headlines in this summer's fires that were especially shocking from far away—it must have been really hard in the communities—were about the RCMP threat that, if the chiefs didn't agree to evacuate their communities themselves, the RCMP would apprehend the children. That was obviously a bad trigger from a really bad time in Canada. That was mentioned by Chief Joe Alphonse from the Tsilhqot'in First Nation, west of Williams Lake.

Is that something that travelled through leadership in other parts of the country?

1:15 p.m.

Chief, Skeetchestn Indian Band

Chief Ronald E. Ignace

I confronted that. We brought in the RCMP to help us give the evacuation order. When they tried to confront our people in that way, I told them to back off, to leave them alone, that we'd take care of the people, that we'd look after them, and we did. Those who decided to stay back, we allowed them to stay, regardless of age, and things went well and smoothly.

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

You were able to look after your families all on your own.

1:20 p.m.

Chief, Skeetchestn Indian Band

Chief Ronald E. Ignace

Yes, we even watered the gardens, and fed budgies and pets in the homes.