Roles and Responsibilities during Emergencies


The Emergency Management Assistance Program of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) is consistent with Public Safety Canada's Federal Emergency Response Plan (FERP) and An Emergency Management Framework for Canada. These documents ensure that emergency management roles and activities are carried out in a responsible manner at all levels of society in Canada. Legal and policy frameworks and other arrangements establish guidelines and standards to ensure that due diligence is exercised and accountability is respected in the conduct of emergency management activities. Emergency management responsibilities in Canada are shared by Federal/Provincial/Territorial governments and their partners, including individual citizens who have a responsibility to be prepared for disasters and contribute to community resiliency.

In an emergency, the first response is almost always by the individual or local authorities because disasters occur most often locally. Once a community is overwhelmed it will request assistance at the provincial or territorial level. Should a provincial or territorial government require resources beyond their capacity to cope in an emergency or disaster, the federal government responds rapidly to any request for assistance by a provincial or territorial government.

First Nation Community Members' Responsibilities

Community members should make every effort to protect their health, safety and personal property during emergencies. Public Safety Canada's Get Prepared website for emergency preparedness suggests being ready to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours during an emergency if you are able to remain in your home. Even when evacuations are expected, First Nation community members should be prepared to take care of their immediate needs for 72 hours in case of delays or unforeseen circumstances.

First Nation Communities' Responsibilities

Effective emergency management starts at the local level. AANDC encourages First Nation Communities to create and implement emergency management plans.

When there is an actual or impending emergency that could threaten life, property or the environment, the Chief and Council are responsible for using all available local resources to respond. They are also responsible for notifying AANDC and provincial or territorial emergency management officials if a threat is beyond their community's response capacity.

AANDC's Responsibility

AANDC works with Public Safety Canada to ensure the safety and well being of First Nations on reserves through the promotion of the four pillars of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

AANDC's Role

AANDC works with provincial and territorial governments to ensure First Nations have access to comparable emergency assistance services available to other residents in their respective jurisdiction. The provinces are responsible for emergency management within their areas of jurisdiction and therefore have the expertise and capacity to deliver these services on behalf of AANDC.

How AANDC Supports First Nation Communities during Emergencies

To ensure First Nations have the assistance they need within the broader provincial or territorial emergency management system, AANDC is in regular contact with provincial and territorial emergency management officials.

During an emergency, AANDC provides advice and support within its mandate and authority as requested by the affected province or territory. After the emergency, the Government of Canada reimburses the province or territory for eligible costs associated with emergency response and recovery.

In the event of property or critical infrastructure damage in a community, AANDC works with the Chief and Council to assess the situation, determine the most effective way to repair damage and ensure ongoing program and service delivery to the community. AANDC remains in contact with the First Nation until the situation has been thoroughly assessed.

To deliver emergency management services to First Nation communities, there are various funding arrangements or agreements between AANDC and the provinces/territories. The agreements also assure provinces/territories that AANDC will cover emergency assistance costs in First Nation communities so that emergency response is conducted without undue delay.


In accordance with the Emergency Management Act and An Emergency Management Framework for Canada, AANDC is working diligently to establish an all-hazards approach for responding to emergencies that affect First Nation communities. The term "all hazards" covers natural and man-made hazards and threats from flooding and forest fires to national security events.

More Information

For additional information on emergency management, please contact:

Phone: (toll-free) 1-800-567-9604
Fax: 1-866-817-3977
TTY: (toll-free) 1-866-553-0554

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