Empowering Communities to Endure Climate Disasters
2023, Climate + Environment, Cities, Community Building
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 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 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 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, 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.