18 episodes

In this podcast we explore the concept of fire as a tool for ecological health and cultural empowerment by indigenous people around the globe. Good Fire is a term used to describe fire that is lit intentionally to achieve specific ecological and cultural goals. Good fire is about balance.

Good Fire Amy Cardinal Christianson and Matthew Kristoff

    • Natural Sciences

In this podcast we explore the concept of fire as a tool for ecological health and cultural empowerment by indigenous people around the globe. Good Fire is a term used to describe fire that is lit intentionally to achieve specific ecological and cultural goals. Good fire is about balance.

    Cultural Fire in California with Don Hankins

    Cultural Fire in California with Don Hankins

    Good Fire Podcast by Amy Cardinal Christianson and Matthew Kristoff
    Stories of Indigenous fire stewardship, cultural empowerment and environmental integrity
    Update: Cultural Fire in California with Don Hankins
    Episode highlight
    In this podcast, Don Hankins talks about new developments around cultural burning in California and his hopes for the future.
    Resources
    California’s Strategic Plan for Expanding the Use of Beneficial Fire
    Sponsors
    The Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science
    Support from:
    ●       California Indian Water Commission
    ●       Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation
    Quotes
    24.52 - 24.53: “We definitely have to connect culture to fire.”
    Takeaways
    Cultural torch bearers (01.52)
    Don is Plains Miwok from the central valley of California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. He believes that due to the wildfires in California, initiatives are taking place that recognize the place of Indigenous fire.
    Revitalizing cultural fire (4.37)
    Various policy barriers - access to land and funding and permission to burn using traditional laws - are being addressed through the creation of a tribally chartered non-profit organization to support learning, advance policy efforts and act as a refunding and redistribution entity.
    Building and empowering the youth (07.16)
    Don looks to the youth to carry Indigenous knowledge of fire into the future and seeks young people from his Nation to mentor. Knowledge holders training the youth to understand the cultural reasons for burning, read the landscape and maintain culture will enable the youth to step into decision-making roles and policy arenas.
    Enabling cultural burning (11.49)
    Don speaks about California Bill SB 332 which allows certified burn bosses and cultural burners to burn, and that if they meet certain conditions, they shall not be liable for any fire suppression or other costs otherwise recoverable for a burn.
    Spreading like good fire (16.05)
    Don also speaks about California Bill AB 642 which primarily codifies the definitions of cultural fire and incentivizes agencies to work with cultural burners to implement plans and enable Indigenous stewardship.
    Cultural fire progress (20.21)
    Don lists some challenges to advancing cultural fire - the criteria for declaring someone trained and the sensitivities around tribal sovereignty for that declaration. If someone is not exposed to cultural fire training, errors in the process could occur.
    Learning from fire (23.42)
    Don shares that if you are gentle with fire and approach it in a good way, you can learn from it, or you can learn the lessons the hard way. Thinking about the reasons for burning helps look for learning opportunities in burning. Don’s approach to burning changes according to the requirement, but praying and acknowledging the land is always a part of it.
    Send in your comments and feedback to the hosts of this podcast via email: amy.christianson@pc.gc.ca and yourforestpodcast@gmail.com.
    If you liked this podcast, please check out YourForest podcast too, rate and review it on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and tag a friend, and send your feedback and comments to yourforestpodcast@gmail.com.

    Fire In Zimbabwe with Ntando Nondo

    Fire In Zimbabwe with Ntando Nondo

    Good Fire Podcast by Amy Cardinal Christianson and Matthew Kristoff
    Stories of Indigenous fire stewardship, cultural and social empowerment, and environmental integrity
    Episode highlight
    In this episode, Ntando Nondo talks about Indigenous land stewardship and fire management practices in Zimbabwe.
    Resources
    Ntando Nondo’s Profile
    Southern Africa Fire Network (SAFNET)
    Sponsors
    The Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science
    Support from:
    ●       California Indian Water Commission
    ●       Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation
    Quotes
    42.08 - 42.16: “If there is a fire, you better use the little water you have to save your property.”
    Takeaways
    Fire management strategies (05.49)
    Ntando shares that the fire management plan involves protecting the ecological regions depending on the amount of rainfall received, the wildlife living in the region and the kind of farming done there. 
    The many uses and sources of fire (12.45)
    For Indigenous peoples, fire is the primary source of energy and a cultural entity. Wildland fires can be started by a locomotive, electrical faults, or lightning.
    Good fire (19.30)
    Ntando explains that previously, communities were in charge of fire management on their own lands but fire now has regulations associated with it. They do their burning in designated areas ahead of the fire season, to reduce the fuel available to burn and reduce fire intensity.
    Indigenous partnership with the government (25.58)
    The 15+ Indigenous groups in Zimbabwe manage their lands on a day-to-day basis in consultation with the government.
    Coming together to avert disasters (33.39)
    Zimbabwe is a member of the Southern Africa Fire Network (SAFNET), a voluntary organization that shares strategies on fire management and developments across borders using remote sensing to alert neighbouring countries.
    Beating the fires (39.26)
    Ntando describes a fire beater as a wooden stick with a 4X6cm piece of rubber on one end used to beat the fire grounds to remove oxygen from the fire. They also use sprayers, sprinklers and other tools to disperse chemicals and water.
    Prepare for the worst, expect the best (43.29)
    Ntando recalls the 2010 fire in the Midlands province lasted for 3 days, killing 7 elephants and several donkeys and domesticated animals. Fire breaks allow for effective demarcation of lands and timely fire management before the entire community is affected.
    Fire then and now (47.01)
    Ntando observes that fire used for indoor purposes like cooking or cultural ceremonies continues, but fire outside the home or in agriculture is restricted, especially during Zimbabwe’s fire season from 31st July to 31st October. He envisions consulting with Indigenous communities on fire management so that the fire can continue to play a central role in their culture.
    The future of fire (55.06)
    Satellite technology and remote sensing can be helpful in presenting a graphical summary of the success of fire management plans and inform further refinements to the plan.
    Send in your comments and feedback to the hosts of this podcast via email: amy.christianson@pc.gc.ca and yourforestpodcast@gmail.com.

    Cultural Safety with Joe Gilchrist and Natasha Caverley

    Cultural Safety with Joe Gilchrist and Natasha Caverley

    Episode highlight
    In this episode, Ntando Nondo talks about Indigenous land stewardship and fire management practices in Zimbabwe.
    Resources
    Ntando Nondo’s Profile
    Southern Africa Fire Network (SAFNET)
    Sponsors
    The Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science
    Support from:
    ●       California Indian Water Commission
    ●       Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation
    Quotes
    42.08 - 42.16: “If there is a fire, you better use the little water you have to save your property.”
    Takeaways
    Fire management strategies (05.49)
    Ntando shares that the fire management plan involves protecting the ecological regions depending on the amount of rainfall received, the wildlife living in the region and the kind of farming done there. 
    The many uses and sources of fire (12.45)
    For Indigenous peoples, fire is the primary source of energy and a cultural entity. Wildland fires can be started by a locomotive, electrical faults, or lightning.
    Good fire (19.30)
    Ntando explains that previously, communities were in charge of fire management on their own lands but fire now has regulations associated with it. They do their burning in designated areas ahead of the fire season, to reduce the fuel available to burn and reduce fire intensity.
    Indigenous partnership with the government (25.58)
    The 15+ Indigenous groups in Zimbabwe manage their lands on a day-to-day basis in consultation with the government.
    Coming together to avert disasters (33.39)
    Zimbabwe is a member of the Southern Africa Fire Network (SAFNET), a voluntary organization that shares strategies on fire management and developments across borders using remote sensing to alert neighbouring countries.
    Beating the fires (39.26)
    Ntando describes a fire beater as a wooden stick with a 4X6cm piece of rubber on one end used to beat the fire grounds to remove oxygen from the fire. They also use sprayers, sprinklers and other tools to disperse chemicals and water.
    Prepare for the worst, expect the best (43.29)
    Ntando recalls the 2010 fire in the Midlands province lasted for 3 days, killing 7 elephants and several donkeys and domesticated animals. Fire breaks allow for effective demarcation of lands and timely fire management before the entire community is affected.
    Fire then and now (47.01)
    Ntando observes that fire used for indoor purposes like cooking or cultural ceremonies continues, but fire outside the home or in agriculture is restricted, especially during Zimbabwe’s fire season from 31st July to 31st October. He envisions consulting with Indigenous communities on fire management so that the fire can continue to play a central role in their culture.
    The future of fire (55.06)
    Satellite technology and remote sensing can be helpful in presenting a graphical summary of the success of fire management plans and inform further refinements to the plan.
    Send in your comments and feedback to the hosts of this podcast via email: amy.christianson@pc.gc.ca and yourforestpodcast@gmail.com.

    Fire and Carbon with Russell Myers Ross and William Nikolakis

    Fire and Carbon with Russell Myers Ross and William Nikolakis

    Episode highlight
    In this episode, Russell Myers Ross and William Nikolakis speak about the work of the Gathering Voices Society on revitalizing traditional fire management in Tsilhqot’in Territory and the potential around carbon offsets.
    Resources
    Russell Myers Ross’ Story
    William Nikolakis’ Profile
    Gathering Voices Society
    The North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA)
    Intact Foundation
    Wildfire governance in a changing world: Insights for policy learning and policy transfer
    Goal setting and Indigenous fire management: a holistic perspective
    Sponsors
    The Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science
    Support from:
    ●       California Indian Water Commission
    ●       Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation
    Takeaways
    Valuing Indigenous knowledge and experience (7.59)
    Will created the Gathering Voices Society to support “a stewardship model, where First Nations manage the land in ways that are consistent with their values for their own goals and their own ways”.
    Practical action (10.54)
    Will shares that their goal is to support the community by employing people for the fire programs, and they are guided by their motto to learn by doing. Cultural burning can involve everyone in the community, not just firefighters, to begin seeing fire as a friend.
    Learning by doing (14.58)
    Will met Russ at a governance conference in 2015. They hosted Victor Steffensen in 2018 for knowledge exchange on different ways of practising cultural burning which led to them doing their first spring burn in 2019.
    Balancing benefits, mitigating effects (25.07)
    Even though many people hold misconceptions about cultural burning, Russ knows that the benefits will be visible in due time, and healthy land can be enjoyed by all. The community has been excited about reconnecting to the land and the energy is infectious.
    2017 wildfires (33.52)
    The Gathering Voices Society has secured funding to finance the fire stewardship in Russ’ community. Russ speaks about the aftermath of the 2017 wildfires and the hope for development and education in this space ever since.
    Changing the world, one fire at a time (42.37)
    Will and Russ discuss the different tools used in cultural burning. Other communities are looking to him for inspiration on land management today. Will is working towards compiling scientific evidence of the validity and importance of this practice.
    Carbon (48.56)
    Will talks about working with NAILSMA, where they witnessed the growth of well-documented formal Indigenous fire programs that are groundbreaking in understanding the effect of fire across the landscape.
    Passing on the torch (54.46)
    Russ states that piloting the program in the community was important to measure practicality and interest, and they are now planning on how it can be expanded. He envisions this work to be intergenerational, keeping the community immersed in the knowledge.
    Send in your comments and feedback to the hosts of this podcast via email: amy.christianson@pc.gc.ca and yourforestpodcast@gmail.com.

    Cultural Fire Ceremony with Ron Goode

    Cultural Fire Ceremony with Ron Goode

    Good Fire Podcast by Amy Cardinal Christianson and Matthew Kristoff
    Stories of Indigenous fire stewardship, cultural empowerment and environmental integrity
    Episode highlight
    In this episode, Ron W. Goode talks about his journey stewarding the land using fire and the importance of ceremony. 
    Resources
    Ron Goode’s Profile
    Tribal-Traditional Ecological Knowledge
    Sponsors
    The Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science
    Support from:
    ●       California Indian Water Commission
    ●       Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation
    Quotes
    46.26 - 46.29: “Your voice is not carrying but you keep singing”.
    Takeaways
    Living on the land (4.37)
    Ron is the Tribal Chairman of the North Fork Mono Tribe. He describes how his grandparents were born before the land was colonized, and his grandmother lived just off the land beyond the age of 100.
    Understanding nature (7.24)
    Ron points out that there are 10,000 meadows in the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges in California, where wild animals and humans coexist. They also have natural medicines they prepare and trade.
    Tending the garden (16.12)
    Ron laments that mega-fires have increased the canopy of the forest so much that rain does not reach the roots of trees, and what does hit the floor, runs off. Thinning the forest thus plays an important part in keeping the forest healthy. 
    The right way to do a cultural burn (23.34)
    Ron is mindful to burn using the right techniques, in the right area and during the right season. A cultural burn will not burn the root system, but a wildfire does.
    Cultural resources are the brush (31.37)
    When Ron does a burn, he has a vision of what the landscape will look like a few years from now, and what harvest will be ready. 
    “We don’t do anything that is not spiritual first” (40.23)
    Working on the landscape means making an offering to Mother Earth and all its inhabitants. Ron shares that when an offering is made from the spirit, all of nature responds well to it. 
    Fire is ceremonial (49.43)
    Ron explains that cultural fire is called ceremonial fire because it begins with a prayer or song. They have been successfully burning on the land with no real accidents.
    Consultation is the way forward (56.21)
    The California government has been charged with creating a strategic plan for natural resources and is hiring a tribal liaison for each tribe. However, consultation becomes complicated with the hiring of non-tribal liaisons who do not have a connection to the tribe.
    “I’m burning for the sustainability of our culture” (1.00.39)
    Ron burns with the intention to sustain his culture first and then to contain wildfires and improve biodiversity.
    Take care of your backyard (1.10.20)
    Ron shares his experiences with Aboriginal leaders in Australia, exchanging knowledge and cultural guidance.
    Send in your comments and feedback to the hosts of this podcast via email: amy.christianson@pc.gc.ca and yourforestpodcast@gmail.com.

    Cultural Fire Is Back with Bhiamie Willaimson

    Cultural Fire Is Back with Bhiamie Willaimson

    Hosted by Amy Cardinal Christianson, and Matthew Kristoff. Amy is a Métis woman from Treaty 8 territory, currently living in Treaty 6, and a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada. Matthew grew up in Treaty 8 territory and now lives in Treaty 6. He is a forester in the province of Alberta, Canada and the creator of YourForest Podcast.
    Episode highlight
    In this podcast, Bhiamie Williamson discusses the connection of Indigenous peoples to the land, and how cultural burning is a way to preserve the environment and cultural heritage.
    Resources
    Strength from perpetual grief: how Aboriginal people experience the bushfire crisis
    Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements
    Sponsors
    The Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science
    Support from:
    ● California Indian Water Commission
    ● Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation
    Quotes
    12.00 - 12.10: “There is so much trauma in our communities, people have never had the opportunity, I feel, to kind of pick themselves up and dust themselves off from colonization.”
    Takeaways
    Fire is a shared resource (5.58)
    As an Aboriginal child growing up in Australia surrounded by his culture, Bhiamie “always had a love for country”. He studied environmental and political sciences at university, and discovered the benefits of cultural burning.
    Land is at the center of healing (11.26)
    Bhiamie points out that fire plays an important role in Indigenous healing practices. Cultural burning can also prevent wildfires, thus preventing the trauma of losing ancestral lands.
    Sharing the load (19.04)
    Bhiamie has written an article that has inspired governments and agencies to provide trauma-informed support to Aboriginal peoples after natural disasters.
    The land is a living museum (24.42)
    Bhiamie informs that Aboriginal peoples have connections to land, and the animals, trees, stones, and petroglyphs are all part of the cultural heritage.
    “The best form of protecting is prevention” (30.22)
    Bhiamie recommends engaging Indigenous peoples in emergency management and prevention conversations which can help in high-pressure conditions.
    “Think ahead and be happy to be unsettled” (38.37)
    Bhiamie comments on the impacts of colonization and “centuries of oppression”, and the need to overturn it.
    True reconciliation (46.59)
    Bhiamie expresses his preference to have Indigenous peoples design their own emergency management programs across different lands in Australia.
    Children of the future (59.19)
    A majority of the Aboriginal population is young, which brings up the need to provide educational and developmental support along with family and social support.
    “It’s just not good enough to ignore us anymore” (1.02.37)
    Bhiamie observes that even when Indigenous peoples are invited to share their opinion, they are marginalized, with tokenized opportunities that contain the impact they can have.
    Indigenizing masculinity (1.08.41)
    Bhiamie’s Ph.D. research is on Indigenous men and masculinity, exploring masculinity from an Indigenous perspective.
    “You can call that decolonization, I just call that common sense” (1.14.13)
    In Bhiamie’s opinion, the first step to decolonization is to employ Indigenous peoples in senior roles. Land justice and repossession by Indigenous peoples, as well as cultural burning to manage climate change, are the next steps.
    You can get in touch with the hosts of this podcast via email: amy.christianson@canada.ca and yourforestpodcast@gmail.com.

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