On July 20, the government of British Columbia announced the creation of an Indigenous climate-resilience and capacity-building pilot program across the province.

According to the press release, B.C’s Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy has provided “$2 million to fund a one-year pilot program that will be delivered by two First Nations organizations with experience in delivering environmental programs: The Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative and First Nations Emergency Services Society.”

George Heyman, the minister of environment and climate change strategy, said in the press release that the program will allow communities across B.C. to take action on critical climate initiatives.

“This pilot will build on the experience of First Nations in raising awareness of climate adaptation, promote knowledge transfer, deliver training and develop an Indigenous peer mentorship network that will help ensure climate-resilience and adaptation action measures are implemented,” the minister said.

In the news release, the provincial government said the new pilot program builds on those supports to “enhance the capacity of Indigenous communities throughout” B.C.

First Nation communities located near Merritt, such as Coldwater Indian Band, Lower Nicola Indian Band, Nooaitch Indian Band, Shackan Indian Band and Upper Nicola Indian Band, are likely to benefit from this program.

The provincial government also said in the press release that the pilot program consists of three different streams. The first stream focuses on climate-resilience staffing and will provide resources for regional climate-resilience coordinators, who will be in place to support Indigenous communities throughout B.C.

The second stream focuses on providing the new staffing with training and skills that can be passed along to community members to support Indigenous communities to understand and prepare for climate change.

As for the last stream, it focuses on creating a peer network and mentorship program for the regional coordinators so they can develop their capacity and share information that will help them better serve First Nations’ communities.

Christine Smith-Martin, CEO of Coastal First Nations, reminded in the press release of the destructive impacts that Indigenous communities at North Pacific Coast have experienced in previous years, and reassured that they remain fully committed to solutions.

“This pilot program will help us continue to lead the fight against climate change, supporting Indigenous climate action in our communities and others across the province to ensure a resilient, adaptable and sustainable future for all British Columbians,” she said.

For more information, visit the British Columbia’s government website.