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Fighting fire with fire

Yunesit’in First Nation is Fighting Fire with Fire

Gathering Voices Society sparks change by helping revitalize Indigenous fire management

Written by Meera Eragoda

In June and July alone, BC has seen 90% of the town of Lytton burn down, over 250 wildfires, and a record-breaking heat wave, leading to the province declaring a state of emergency. Fire has become, quite literally, a hot topic.

Wildfires are increasing in both size and frequency, as well as lasting longer. William Nikolakis, Executive Director of Gathering Voices Society, says this shows an imperative for large-scale Indigenous fire management practices. For the past three years, Gathering Voices has been working with two Tsilhqot’in member nations, Xeni Gwit’in and Yunesit’in, to revitalize traditional fire management on their lands.

One important effect of Indigenous cultural burning is the reduction of fuel loads such as brush, grass, dry twigs and leave