The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) recognizes and acknowledges the unique trauma First Nations evacuees may be currently experiencing, which goes beyond the threat of or loss of home and includes impacts to territory, plants and animals. Communities and families who have been affected are in our prayers and those who have chosen to stay behind are also in our prayers.
We recognize the significant trauma associated with this situation. I know that disasters like these can trigger past experiences of territorial dispossession, and acknowledge the trauma that can come with having to abruptly evacuate your home while worrying about your loved ones and your animals.
Those who are evacuating, we understand that many of you are arriving at evacuation centres in a state of stress, not sure of how to access all of the available services and supports. So, I encourage evacuating community members to seek out FNHA staff at the FNHA booths in Prince George at the College of New Caledonia. They are there specifically to help affected First Nations community members access available services and supports, including mental health supports and traditional wellness supports during this stressful time.
Please take care of yourselves and one another, and lean on the resources available to you to take care of your own mental wellness and that of your children and relatives. As communities and individuals, we all have our healthy ways of coping with stress & trauma – now is time to use them. Reflection, prayer, culture and ceremony can help.
I encourage everyone to remember to put our sensitive populations first. People with existing heart or lung conditions, infants, the Elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women are all considered to be more sensitive to smoke, so this population should take action to reduce exposure at an early stage. Again, please visit our FNHA Wildfire information page for more health information. For those with loved ones in the hospital or long-term care, a central number has been established through Interior Health Patient and Quality Care Office (1.877.442.2001) to connect evacuees and families.
Please read our updates and visit our Wildfire Information Page at www.fnha.ca/wildfire for information on resources available for communities, including information about the location of clean air stations, filling prescriptions, counselling, obtaining necessary medical transportation, available resources and road closures.
Our thoughts and prayers are with our communities at this time and I encourage you all to take care of each other. Again, please look for our FNHA and First Nations health partner booths at the evacuation centres in Kamloops and Prince George and don't hesitate to approach our staff with any questions you may have.
Dr. Evan Adams
Chief Medical Officer, First Nations Health Authority
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