Empowering Communities to Endure Climate Disasters

2023, Climate + Environment, Cities, Community Building, Engage in Global Challenges, Make a Difference for B.C.

With the mounting climate crisis, British Columbians can expect more floods, fires and other disasters in their future. This online event brought together experts to discuss how resilience can begin with empowered communities and the ways to mitigate risks. This event introduced us to people impacted by climate disasters and considered how we can come together to heal and rebuild after devastation. 

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 and funded by the inaugural Lieutenant Governor’s BC Journalism Fellowship. This event was presented in partnership with The Tyee and The Climate Disaster Project.

Tue, 20 Jun 2023

Online event


Francesca Fionda

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 series, Bracing for Disasters, revealed new data on evacuations and uncovered gaps in emergency response. Her reporting on natural disasters has looked at racism in emergency management, economic impacts of sea level rise and community-driven solutions. She is also an adjunct professor of journalism and has taught trauma-informed interviewing techniques for reporting on climate disasters.


Tyrone McNeil

Tyrone McNeil is Chair of the Emergency Planning Secretariat, Stó:lō Tribal Council President & Tribal Chief and a member of Seabird Island Band. He’s worked to advance First Nations languages and education through collaborating with First Nations across the country, and developing agreements and partnerships with government. The Emergency Planning Secretariat is 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.

Michele Feist

Michele Feist escaped the Lytton fire of 2021 with her dog Finn 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. In collaboration with UVIC’s Climate Disaster Project and The Tyee, Feist published an as-told-to story about her evacuation, losing her home and reflections after the disaster.

Tarina Colledge

Tarina Colledge is the secretary of the British Columbia Association of Emergency Managers and has over 15 years of experience working on public safety with local government. 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 from those fires and eventually relocated to B.C. where she is now an emergency manager with the Fraser Valley Regional District.

Susan Dobra

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 of Paradise and is part of several community-led initiatives to rebuild her community including Regenerating Paradise


Event partners

Community guidelines

Our community guidelines are intended to ensure the safety of all guest speakers and event participants, and to foster honest, socially accountable dialogue at our events. Thank you for respecting these guidelines!

  • Above all, there will be zero tolerance for those who promote violence or discrimination against others on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, or disability. Anyone who incites harm towards other participants (whether through chat, video, audio or otherwise) will be removed at the discretion of our technical team and moderator.
  • Don’t assume pronouns/gender/knowledge based on someone’s name or appearance. Please refer to people using the usernames and/or pronouns they provide.
  • Take space, make space: share your perspective, and make space for other voices to be heard too. Recognize that we are all here to learn.