KFN still hasn’t applied for disaster relief funding

KFN has not applied for federal funding that would cover 100 per cent of eligible costs

A photo posted by KFN Chief April Martel shows some of the wildfire devastation in her community. (Facebook photo)

Update (July 18, 5:45): This story has been updated to reflect new information from Indigenous Services Canada.

Two months after fire devastated K’atl’odeeche First Nation (KFN), the community’s administration still has not applied for federal disaster relief funding, and no funding is coming from the GNWT.

Disaster relief funding is offered through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP) of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). There is no deadline to apply, and the funding would cover 100 per cent of eligible costs and be available immediately.

Earlier this month, KFN Chief April Martel told CKLB the community is “covered 110 per cent” for the damage.

She then told CKLB on Thursday that KFN “has applied for the funding part for fire relief […] through ISC.”

But Matthew Gutsch, a spokesperson for ISC, said last week KFN has not applied for the funding despite being eligible.

“The K’atl’odeeche First Nation has not submitted a claim for reimbursement of Emergency Management Assistance Program eligible costs for responding to the 2023 wildfire emergency,” he wrote.

Another spokesperson confirmed this was still the case as of Wednesday.

KFN did, however, receive an advance payment of $100,000 through ISC on June 1 to cover initial expenses. “We understand the community is going through difficult times,” a spokesperson wrote on July 17. “Additional funding is available and ISC will be there to meet the full needs of the community. ”

Nor is there any funding coming from the territorial government: Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) spokesperson Jay Boast confirmed last week that because the federal funding stream is available and covers all eligible costs, KFN is not eligible for territorial funding.

“In terms of Disaster Assistance that is through the Federal EMAP program,” he said. “Since KFN is eligible through the Federal program, they are working with ISC as that is the appropriate body and protocol.”

More than a dozen buildings were damaged by the fire, which is believed to have been human caused.

Martel said the community is still assessing the cost of the damage. “You do realize that we just got into the office 8 days ago and we aren’t even set up with full admin yet due to the loss of our building so at this time we don’t have a full cost of our budget for the fire,” she wrote on Thursday.

KFN CEO Alex Gresl did not return a request for comment.

With files from Eden Maury.

About the Author

Ian Down
Ian Down is a general news reporter from the West Island of Montreal. After studying journalism and computer science at Concordia University, he came to Yellowknife in 2021, joining the CKLB team in September 2022. When not behind his desk, you can find him at a local Yellowknife poetry reading, or annoying his roommates by playing his clarinet at odd hours. Feel free to reach out with any tips or story ideas at ian.down@cklb.com, or follow him on Twitter at @IanDown1996.