Not All Fire is Bad: Indigenous Fire Stewardship in Canada

By James Collie and Hannah E. Verrips of University of Western Ontario

Wildfires have disastrous consequences for everyone, especially for Indigenous communities who often lack the resources and infrastructure needed to prevent the loss of their homes and lands to these devastating events. Current approaches to wildfire management focus on extinguishment rather than prevention and have not successfully reduced disastrous fires from occurring. This paper “Not All Fire is Bad Indigenous Fire Stewardship in Canada” argues that current policies should be revised to better engage with and incorporate cultural practices of Indigenous Fire Stewardship (IFS), specifically prescribed (or, controlled) burns, to manage and prevent disaster and restore the land. There has been some limited adoption of this alternative model but it has been recommended that this program be expanded nationally and improved through the creation of new institutions that support and facilitate a more collaborative approach with Indigenous communities.