About Us

Background to the Project

In 2010, JIBC in collaboration with Laurie Pearce, Brenda Murphy, Robin Cox and numerous others researchers from across Canada, developed the web-based Rural Disaster Resilience Planning (RDRP) Framework to assist the needs of small, rural and remote communities to identify their level of community resilience (e.g., community stability and sustainability, social support systems), disaster management resilience (e.g., volunteer fire department, emergency response plan) and resilience to specific hazards (e.g., fire, flooding).

Given the scope of the RDRP it was well-suited to adaptation for First Nations and Aboriginal communities in Canada. While the existing framework served as an excellent platform, the overall design and content needed to be reviewed and adapted to meet the needs of First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities.

In the fall of 2014, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) supported a collaborative process with JIBC and Wilfrid Laurier University, along with extensive use of Aboriginal consultants to make the necessary modifications to the RDRP and to develop the Aboriginal Disaster Resilience Project (ADRP). The co-lead researchers on the project were Laurie Pearce (Justice Institute of British Columbia) and Brenda Murphy (Wilfrid Laurier University). All of the material on the ADRP was reviewed and signed off by the following Aboriginal Consultants:

Terrina Bellegarde, Nakota-Cree

Terrina Bellegarde is Nakota-Cree and resides in Treaty Four Territory area. She is a Researcher Analyst for special projects at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and has been involved in reviews of policy and programs under the scope of emergency management and preparedness within the region of Saskatchewan. This project aims to design tools to assist community level planning for disaster resiliency and will complement existing plans or provide exceptional foundations for preparing First Nations communities.

Christine Brown, Lytton First Nation

Christine Brown is the main emergency Coordinator for Lytton First Nation and responds to emergencies that threaten their band members and community by participating and interacting with other local, municipal, regional, provincial and federal governments and agencies. This project is important because emergencies do not recognize boundaries and everybody, irregardless of where they come from or live, can be subject to an emergency situation without any warning.

Michelle Buchholz, Wet’suwet’en First Nation

Michelle is a member of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from Smithers, British Columbia and has a background in First Nations Studies, Anthropology, and Conflict Resolution. Michelle has worked with First Nations organizations and communities for over 10 years and is currently working with the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of BC. She is passionate about working in emergency services, which is rooted in a deep concern for the health and welfare of First Nations’ communities. This project is important to me as it will build capacity in First Nation communities, addresses cultural values and will ultimately help save lives.

Annette Chretien, Metis, Sudbury, Wilfrid Laurier University

Annette Chretien is a Metis woman from Sudbury, Ontario. She completed her Ph.D. at York University and has been working in and with Aboriginal communities since the early 1990s. Her research is focused on Metis identities and Indigenous Knowledge. She also participated in the initial research project that led to the ADRP. Given her experience with the project, she can attest to the importance of work with Aboriginal communities that can help build resilience.

David Diabo, Kahnawake

Tahawennon:tie David A. Diabo is Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) from Kahnawake, QC, and is on a work exchange from the Assembly of First Nations to the Emergency Management Directorate at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Mr. Diabo is completing a Bachelors of Technology in Emergency Management at Cape Breton University, and will be the first native in Canada to attain this degree. Being involved in the creation and development of this project has been a labor of love for me, because Mohawk culture tells me that whatever I do, I must plan for seven generations ahead. This project can accomplish this task. So not only is this project very important to myself, to the First Nations, the Inuit, and the Metis across the country, but it’s important that these people have the tools and ability to protect themselves and their future generations as well.

Wendall Nicholas, Maliseet Nation

Wendall Nicholas is a member of the Maliseet Nation at Tobique and was born with a sight disability. His work with the Assembly of First Nations included policy roles in justice, health and social issues. This work included authoring public safety protocols between the AFN and the RCMP and Red Cross. He is CEO of Wasueg Resources that provides mediation, management and cultural safety services to public and private entities. My participation in this initiative is due to the fact that all people in our Aboriginal communities, including our elders and people with disabilities, are potentially the people most at risk from environmental disasters. So we want to make sure we include their perspectives and work to enhance the communities’ resilience to respond and cope with disasters. This is why this work is so important to me.

Lorraine Tordiff, Metis, Northwest Territories

A proud Metis, indigenous to the Northwest Territories, Lorraine has three children and nine grandchildren. She is passionate about lifelong learning and sees education as being essential to building strong, self-reliant and healthy communities. Lorraine takes special interest in cultural awareness and in mentoring the emerging generation of leaders in her community. She has advocated the need to achieve a representative workforce at the Territorial Government level, with increased numbers of aboriginal people in senior management positions

As well as identifying resilience factors, the ADRP also allows communities to identify the potential risk of disaster based on an all-hazards approach. Accompanying the tools to identify risk and resilience factors there are numerous planning tools and references (e.g., getting community buy-in, Provincial and Territorial Emergency Management Resource Lists). Depending on the findings, communities can then choose from a variety of resilience strategies to mitigate potential risks and increase community resilience. The report features allow for communities to produced customized Action Reports to help direct mitigation projects for the future.


The three key tools in the ADRP are:

  • Aboriginal Resilience Index (ARI)
  • Hazard Resilience Index (HRI)
  • Hazard Risk Assessment (HRA)

The tools were developed to enhance organizational all-hazards response planning. The training curricula, tools, and web-assisted networks will provide Aboriginal communities in Canada with fully operational protocols and resources to anticipate and mitigate risks.

Project Support and Consultation

Drafts of key documents were submitted and circulated to the Aboriginal Resilience Sub-Working Group (ARSWG) which is a sub-committee under the Canadian Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. There was also consultation with emergency management practitioners from Inuit and First Nations communities. The research team for the ADRP had Aboriginal backgrounds and/or have worked with indigenous people in Canada or internationally.

Project Management and Administration

Bryce Gunson Dawn Ursuliak Ron Bowles

Research Team

Laurie Pearce Marit Heideman Michelle Marteleiran Eddie Oldfield Marc D’Aquino
Toni Baggos Eric Bussey Debby Danard Ryan Huron Heather Stager
Why is the Project Important?

Disaster Resilience – the ability to survive and thrive in the face of uncertainty – is already a key dimension of Aboriginal communities. It is also the cornerstone of effective emergency management across all phases of a disaster from preparedness through response and recovery. There is much to learn about resilience from Aboriginal communities; their resilience is one of Canada’s biggest assets. At the same time, the emergency planning capacity of Aboriginal communities is often constrained by a lack of resources and access to user-friendly risk mitigation planning tools and processes. The ADRP is designed to promote the transformational capacity of Aboriginal communities by encouraging them to enhance their community and disaster resilience.

Project Partners


aandc laurier