Ottawa must work with Indigenous communities to mitigate climate disasters, experts say


Indigenous Peoples in Canada need more support from the federal government to deal with future climate change-related disasters, according to a new report on Canada’s resilience to disasters.

Although the people living in these areas are the ones most affected by the effects of the weather, experts say nothing is being done to help prepare for the worst weather in Canada.

“The countries I work with often feel neglected or discriminated against,” said Amy Cardinal Christianson, a researcher at the Canada Forest Service, which investigates wildfires.

Christianson, a Métis from Treaty 8 Territory in Alberta, said the affected areas and other natural disasters were being ignored by the government.

“Many felt they had the resources, to be able to provide better care and response in their communities,” he said.

Christianson’s views are supported by a new report, compiled by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) at the request of Public Safety Canada and released this week.

The report, which looks at how Canada can respond to natural disasters, he said governments are not making good use of knowledge and practices that could reduce climate change such as fires and floods.

“Nothing is more important than to help local communities prepare for disaster and resilience,” the report said, adding that Canada should strengthen local infrastructure and systems.

The risk of catastrophic climate change is expected to increase in the near future as the Canadian climate is much warmer than in the rest of the world, creating a dangerous and unpredictable climate.

Studies show that Canadian communities should be affected indefinitely – in part because they are rural and remote.

Amy Cardinal Christianson, a firefighter, said that private communities do not have the resources they need to protect themselves from natural disasters. (CBC)

According to Natural Resources Canada, most Indians have 48 percent of the areas displaced by wildfires between 1980 and 2021 – although Indians make up only 5 percent of Canadian population.

“Our research shows that there is a need for change so that these communities can prepare and respond to these events in a safe way,” Christianson said.

Indigenous Services Canada provides funding and resources to help rural areas adapt to climate change – but experts say access to these programs can be difficult.

“It is difficult for an external user to monitor, know and understand all of these programs,” said Scott Vaughan, director of the International Institute of Sustainable Development who chaired the CCA report.

The report found that Indian communities often have the knowledge to protect themselves from emergencies but “lack the resources or authority to take action.”

In a statement to CBC News, Indigenous Services Canada stated that the government has made $ 259 million over five years “to encourage First Nations to prepare for, respond to, and reduce emergencies.”

The commission also announced $ 100 million from 2016 to the end of 2021 for 89 climate change projects, such as stadiums, sea walls and erosion control. The government says 54 of these projects have been completed.

Regions define government ” craving ‘approach

Aside from calling for more funding and more accessible programs, experts say the federal government should change the way it interacts with and supports rural areas.

“Most of the complaints were about government relations with the states,” Christianson said in a statement.

He also described the people as “government agencies that want to come and help and who do not listen to local ideas or local needs.”

Vaughan said Ottawa needed to take a coherent and inclusive approach to helping people prepare for climate change – which would depend on knowledge and natural processes while encouraging communities to lead sustainable activities.

“It’s not a big deal. It’s a practice,” he said. “How can you look at natural knowledge in a way that would better inform systems?”

India’s long-standing practices such as “traditional burning” – a small, well-managed fire that could reduce the risk of unplanned fires – are among the most effective mitigation measures, the report says.

Christianson said traditional burning has been eliminated by state law.


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