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Journal Article


Asfaw HW, McGee TK, Christianson AC. Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct. 2019; 34: 55-63.


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






Although many decades of successful wildfire suppression have resulted in very few losses of life or property in Ontario due to wildfires, frequent evacuation incidents have continued to disrupt many remote First Nations. In 2011, the community of Sandy Lake evacuated due to a wildfire which came within nine kilometers of the community. Residents were airlifted and scattered to eleven cities/towns throughout Ontario and into Manitoba. Using a qualitative community-based research approach, this study examined how issues related to pre-event preparedness and during-event communication influenced evacuation experiences of Sandy Lake First Nation residents. A total of 56 interviews and a focus group discussion were completed with evacuated band members, those who stayed behind, and people who had a management role during the evacuation. The results from the interviews and focus group illustrated that evacuation experience of residents were affected by preparedness and communication issues including a delay in obtaining site-specific and reliable information about the wildfires, a lack of clarity about the protocols to be followed in declaring a community state of emergency, and perceived constraints in government wildfire management policy, that compromised the resilience of the community to the disruptive impacts of the evacuation. The lack of community preparedness to respond to wildfire emergencies was found to be a main factor increasing vulnerabilities to this wildfire emergency. The results of this study underscore the importance of building local preparedness to hazard and emergencies by taking into account the unique characteristics of Indigenous communities.

Language: en


Communication; Emergency management; Evacuation plan; Evacuation preparedness; Indigenous communities


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