GNWT launches historical ‘after-action review’ into wildfires

The North Slave fire complex on Aug. 17, 2023. (NWT Fire photo.)

To understand the full scope of the emergency management activities associated with the 2023 wildfire season and improve future emergency response, the Government of the Northwest Territories say it will undergo the biggest after-action review in its history.

A photo showing some of the devastation to the Hamlet of Enterprise earlier this month. (Tammy Gauthier Neal/Facebook photo)

The GNWT has released a Request for Proposal (RFP), seeking a third-party contractor to carry out this work, it stated in a media release.

Premier RJ Simpson said: “It’s important that residents, Indigenous governments and stakeholders have an opportunity to share their experiences as part of a transparent and comprehensive review process so that we can have a fulsome assessment of last year’s response.”

As part of the review, the successful contractor will assess the emergency management activities associated with the 2023 wildfire season, focusing on risk monitoring, emergency preparedness activities, response activities, operational and public communications, and much more.

The review will rely heavily on public engagement through questionnaires and public meetings, allowing for anonymous feedback to ensure residents are comfortable providing honest accounts of their experiences.

Engagement will focus on communities that were directly impacted by the 2023 evacuations: Hay River; K’atl’odeeche First Nation; Sambaa K’e; Wekweètì; Behchokǫ̀; Fort Smith; Salt River First Nation; Jean Marie River; Enterprise; Kakisa; Yellowknife; and Dettah/N’dilo.

The final independent review of the 2023 wildfire emergency response will be publicly released in fall. The findings of the review will inform the decision of whether move forward with a public inquiry.