REGINA -- The File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council and Canadian Red Cross Society in Saskatchewan signed a collaborative agreement for emergencies.

This solidifies a mutually beneficial working relationship during times of disaster in communities on Treaty 4 territory, meaning the groups will collaborate to identify their supports and needs.

“The Canadian Red Cross wants to ensure that we are supporting communities as they build the capacity to respond to emergency situations,” Luc Mullinder, vice president of Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan, said. “We have resources that can help (the) community and it’s a matter of us providing access to those resources so (communities) can lead in their responses.”

He said the new agreement is the first step toward real change.

Mullinder said the organizations know how to respond to an emergency, but this agreement allows the tribal council to teach some of the culturally appropriate steps to provide support in a time of need.

“Anything from simply offering traditional food and traditional blanket,” Mullinder said. “All the way to, hey you know, what’s the quickest way to get resources in communities hands.”

Chief Edmund Bellegarde with the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council said there is a lot of infrastructure and training gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

“Understanding the infrastructure that is required, the equipment, the supplies, but the humanitarian approach to providing that service and to mitigating the impacts on the population or the people who are most impacted in the times of disaster,” said Bellegarde. “We’ve learned a lot from emergency planning, emergency implementation, but part of the biggest lesson that we are learning from is emergency preparedness.”

He hopes that more tribal councils will enter agreements with these types of organizations so everyone is prepared.

Both agencies said with Saskatchewan in the middle of wildfire season, this was an important time to sign the paperwork.