Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — “Proper fire education and protection can mean the difference between life and death. Our government is proud to support an Indigenous-led Fire Marshal Office that will promote Indigenous knowledge and solutions to improve fire safety in Indigenous communities. This work would not be possible without the tireless and dedicated project team at the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada which has been engaging Indigenous peoples nationally to develop an IFMO that helps keep Indigenous communities safe,” states Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P. Minister of Indigenous Services.
Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced Budget 2019 funding of $9.97 million over three years, starting in 2019–2020, to support the creation of an Indigenous Fire Marshal Office (IFMO). The funding will support Indigenous partners in the next steps in establishing a new IFMO, including how the Office would be structured and governed, its mandate and any associated legislation. Arnold Lazare, President of the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC), is the IFMO Project Lead.
The first round of engagement sessions with Indigenous communities and stakeholders began in October 2018. A session is being held today during the First Nations’ National Firefighting Competition Event in Eskasoni, Nova Scotia. The second round of engagement is scheduled to start in October this year.
An Indigenous Advisory Committee is being established to support the IFMO Project to help develop the roles and responsibilities of an IFMO. An IFMO would promote fire safety and prevention, undertake public education, and support the use of fire safety, building codes and regular building inspections in Indigenous communities. More information about the project and progress to date can found at https://www.ifmo.ca/.
“We are pleased to see the Government support the creation of an IFMO, and we welcome the proposed investments to strengthen the capacity of Indigenous communities to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Today’s announcement will help move the IFMO from a planning phase to implementation. The IFMO Project Team will continue to work with the Government, Indigenous communities, and key partners to improve life safety and protection of people, property and the environment,” says Arnold Lazare, President, AFAC and Project Lead, Indigenous Fire Marshal Office Project
- The Indigenous Fire Marshal Office (IFMO) will be an Indigenous-led organization, working in collaboration with existing organizations and fire departments, to serve Indigenous communities and promote healthy, safe communities through fire protection and capacity building.
- A 2004 study by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) found that fire incidences in First Nations communities were more than twice that for the rest of Canada, and that the fatality rate from fires was more than 10 times greater than the national average.
- Support for the creation of the IFMO was first given by the Government of Canada in 2017, and has since been supported by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs in its June 2018 report: From the Ashes: Reimagining Fire Safety and Emergency Management in Indigenous Communities.