Charlotte, NC – The devastating wildfires and flooding in British Columbia in 2017 led to a call for a review of disaster preparedness and response. The disasters disproportionately affected First Nations communities, so the Province of BC brought in Context: an Argyle Company to conduct the review. Context’s work has earned it the award for Indigenous Engagement from the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Canada. The award was presented at the IAP2 North American Conference in Charlotte, NC.
The IAP2 Core Values Awards recognize achievements in the field of public engagement, ensuring that people affected by a decision are given the opportunity to give input on that decision and to know how their input was taken into account.
Working with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, Context reviewed the planning and preparation leading up to 2017 and made recommendations for preparation for the wildfire season of 2018. The processes included one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders and First Nations government officials, sharing-circle-style sessions that were adapted according to the community, and online forums for those who were affected but could not take part in person.
Nearly two thousand people took part, and Context visited 14 First Nations communities and presented at three large-scale First Nations gatherings. Ultimately, the process delivered over 100 strategic recommendations.
Over 80 percent of those recommendations came from the public engagement processes – a fact that impressed IAP2 judges. One judge called the process “a fantastic example of how Indigenous engagement is appropriately integrated into a broader engagement process in a culturally appropriate way that is aligned with IAP2 Core Values.”
“We are honoured to be recognized for our work reaching Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities,” says Project Manager Darcy Vermeulen. “It was necessary to travel across the Province of BC to hear about how the government could better plan for and respond to flood and wildfire natural disasters. We are grateful for the leadership of the review’s co-chairs, Chief Maureen Chapman and George Abbott, as well to the hundreds of individuals who told us their stories, and shared their experience of loss and resiliency in the face of such events.”
This is one of two IAP2 Core Values Awards presented to Context. The other is the award for Creativity, Contribution and Innovation in the Field, for its work engaging the public on mobility pricing in Metro Vancouver.
More information about the IAP2 Canada Core Values Awards can be found at www.iap2canada.ca/Core_Values_Awards.