The 2012 Wildfire Evacuation Experiences of Dene Tha' First Nation

  • Author / Creator
    Mottershead, Kyla D
  • Almost every year, First Nations are evacuated in Canada due to wildfire proximity and smoke. The remote locations, unique sociocultural characteristics, and limited emergency management resources and infrastructure of many First Nations can present challenges for residents and evacuation organizers. In addition, the evacuation process itself is administratively and operationally complex and can result in social, psychological, health, and economic implications for First Nations and their individual members. However, little research has sought to examine how these communities are affected by wildfire evacuations. No research has examined how a First Nations community experiences a community-wide mandatory evacuation due entirely to wildfire smoke, despite a large proportion of smoke evacuations involving First Nations. This study addresses this gap in the hazards literature and provides improved understanding of the entire evacuation process from the perspective of community members. Specifically, this study explores how residents of a northern Alberta First Nation were affected by a community-wide evacuation in July 2012 due to wildfire smoke. Using a community-based qualitative methodology and framed from a postcolonial theoretical position, interviews with 31 residents were completed to document how the evacuation was carried out. Several factors influenced how participants were positively and/ or negatively affected by the evacuation including community preparedness; limited wildfire information; wildfire smoke exposure; compromised sense of moral order; local leadership; family support; and the use of familiar host communities. Measures to improve evacuations and emergency management in the community are also identified and discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Specialization
    • Human Geography
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Dr. Tara McGee (Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Damina Collins (Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
    • Dr. Leith Deacon (Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
    • Dr. Tara McGee (Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
    • Dr. Amy Christianson (Canadian Forest Service, Canadian Natural Resources)