The First Nations Leadership Council is calling on the province to declare a state of emergency following the massive floods and landslides that have led to thousands having to evacuate.
The council, which is comprised of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit, said that Indigenous communities across the province have been heavily impacted by the disaster.
“As extreme weather events ravage across B.C., First Nations continue to bear the brunt of climate change impacts and have been forced to flee their homes again,” said Grand Chief Stewart Philip, adding that this was “no time for the province to forge ahead with antiquated fossil fuel projects and logging of old growth forests that will only continue to worsen the absolute environmental catastrophe we are experiencing.”
Many First Nations communities have been hit hard by the recent flooding, which has led to evacuations in the Fraser Valley and across the southern interior of the province. The Cook’s Ferry Band near Spences Bridge has issued an evacuation order, while the Lower Similkameen Band put a number of properties on alert due to the high water level at the Keremeos Red Bridge and debris build-up threatening the Chopaka Bridge.
BCAFN)Regional Chief Terry Teegee said that the a state of emergency needs to be called so that B.C. can deploy all available resources and enact extraordinary measures.
“The province continues to treat these weather-related emergencies as isolated incidents and intermittently declare a state of emergency as if they are light switches going on and off with ease. Let me be clear, these are not isolated incidents,” Teegee continued. “”These are the ongoing repercussions of human-caused climate change that threaten our existence.”
Flooding and landslides have cut access between the Lower Mainland and the east and north of the province. Communities like Princeton, Merritt and parts of Chilliwack, Abbotsford and many more have been evacuated, with no word on how soon highways will reopen or residents will be able to return.
Black Press Media has reached out to the province for more information.