With the mounting climate crisis, British Columbians can expect more floods, fires and other disasters in their future. That’s why The Tyee is partnering with SFU Public Square and the Climate Disaster Project for an online event, bringing together experts to discuss how resilience can begin with empowered communities, and ways to mitigate risk.
On June 20, tune in to our online stream to hear from people personally impacted by climate disasters, and to consider how we can come together to heal and rebuild after devastation. We invite you to share in this vital conversation: ‘Empowering Communities to Endure Climate Disasters.’
This event is a part of Bracing for Disasters a series investigating how to support evacuees and save lives as extreme weather worsens in B.C., funded by the inaugural Lieutenant Governor’s BC Journalism Fellowship.
Read more about the speakers and panelists below.
Francesca Fionda, moderator
Francesca is an investigative reporter and regular contributor at The Tyee. As the first-ever recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s BC Journalism Fellowship she spent months reporting on climate disasters in British Columbia. The resulting series, Bracing for Disasters, revealed new data on evacuations and uncovered gaps in emergency response.
"We learned people in B.C. are being evacuated for weeks at a time, not just days. Our support systems are not set up for this reality — but there are solutions,” she said.
Her reporting on natural disasters has looked at racism in emergency management, economic impacts of sea level rise and community-driven solutions.
“People who have lived and worked through climate disasters have so many tangible ideas and solutions for individuals as well as community leaders and government agencies. Many told us that we don't need to keep reinventing the wheel when it comes to emergency planning and recovery. We need to share ideas and experiences."
In addition to her investigative reporting work, Fionda is an adjunct professor of journalism, and has taught trauma-informed interviewing techniques for reporting on climate disasters.
Susan Dobra, a published writer and community advocate, lived in Paradise, California, with her partner where they sang together, grew organic vegetables, hosted a weekly open mic, and were part of a number of community service organizations.
In 2018, the Camp Wildfire, sparked by a faulty electric transmission line, ripped through her community. The fire killed 85 people and was the most expensive in state history. Today, Susan lives just outside the town and is part of several community-led initiatives to rebuild her community, including Regenerating Paradise.
Tarina Colledge has over 15 years of experience working on public safety with local government, and is secretary of the BC Association of Emergency Managers. She was heavily involved in the response operations and recovery planning of the 2016 Horse River Wildfire in Fort McMurray, and helped with the evacuation of over 88,000 people. While responding, she and her family were also evacuated and eventually relocated to B.C., where she is now an emergency management specialist.
Michele Feist escaped the Lytton fire of 2021 and has since relocated to Williams Lake. Feist is a retired mental health nurse who remains connected with the people and neighbours she had in Lytton. She’s a former Red Cross volunteer and was an Emergency Support Services volunteer during the 2017 Elephant Hill fire. Read her "as told to" story in The Tyee, in collaboration with the Climate Disaster Project.
Stó:lō Tribal Council president and Tribal Chief Tyone McNeil, a member of Seabird Island Band, has worked to advance Indigenous languages and education through collaborating with First Nations across the country. He is chair of the Emergency Planning Secretariat, a non-political organization that supports 31 First Nation communities from Yale to Semiahmoo to Squamish to improve emergency planning and preparedness at the local and regional levels.
On June 20, tune in to our online event to consider how the province and our communities can heal and rebuild after devastation.
This article is part of a Tyee Presents initiative. Tyee Presents is the special sponsored content section within The Tyee where we highlight contests, events and other initiatives that are either put on by us or by our select partners. The Tyee does not and cannot vouch for or endorse products advertised on The Tyee. We choose our partners carefully and consciously, to fit with The Tyee’s reputation as B.C.’s Home for News, Culture and Solutions. Learn more about Tyee Presents here.