Flooding in First Nations communities

Seasonal flooding can put First Nations communities at risk. Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) regional officials work closely with First Nations at risk of flooding and partners to help ensure emergency preparedness and response plans are in place and fund eligible flood mitigation preparedness and response measures.

On this page

Flood risk by region

Flood risk monitoring and emergency response is managed by the provinces and territories. For more information on flood monitoring in your region, consult the regional organizations listed below.


Prince Edward Island

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick






British Columbia

Northwest Territories



Preparing for a flood

To learn more about preparing for a flood, visit Flood Ready.

Visit Canadian Red Cross's website for information on how to prepare for emergencies:

Steering Committee on First Nation Home Flood Insurance Needs

On May 18, 2021, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and the Assembly of First Nations launched the Steering Committee on First Nation Home Flood Insurance Needs to examine the specific home flood insurance needs of First Nations on reserves.

The Steering Committee was the first co-led emergency management initiative between ISC and the Assembly of First Nations. It included representatives from First Nations organizations such as the National Aboriginal Lands Managers Association and the First Nations Housing Professionals Association. Committee members also came from several federal government departments and agencies, Indigenous owned and conventional insurance firms and academia.

Over the year, the committee engaged 71 First Nations across Canada, gathering key information and obtaining First Nations-specific context regarding home flood risk insurance. The final report was presented at the final Steering Committee meeting on June 28, 2022. This work will inform future considerations and potential next steps related to flood insurance options on reserve.

Engaging First Nations from the beginning of the process respects ISC's mandate to advance First Nations self-determination and self-government.

Flood preparation measures in First Nations communities

Structural mitigation

ISC provides funding to First Nations on reserves for structural mitigation projects that reduce the threat of natural hazards and build infrastructure resilient to natural hazards.

Projects include, but are not limited to:

  • dikes
  • sea walls
  • erosion-control measures
  • drainage improvements

Emergency Management Assistance Program

ISC administers Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP) as the main source of federal funding to reimburse on-reserve emergency management activities, including:

  • flood mitigation
  • preparedness
  • response
  • recovery

The program also provides funding to provinces, territories and non-government organizations to support on-reserve emergency management and response services.

In addition, the Building Back Better Strategy for implementing EMAP offers additional supports to reduce First Nations communities' vulnerability and strengthen resilience in response and recovery.

Specific examples in each region are set out below.


(Atlantic regional office)

Through response and recovery, ISC supports First Nations on reserves in responding to imminent threats, including flooding and recovery from emergency events. The Building Back Better Strategy is used to implement measures to prevent or reduce the risk of future flooding.

In the 2022 to 2023 fiscal year, ISC provided support for preparedness and non-structural mitigation activities in Atlantic Canada including:

  • Emergency planning
    • All hazard emergency management planning for:
      • Bilijk First Nation, New Brunswick
      • Oromocto First Nation, New Brunswick
      • Saint Mary's First Nation, New Brunswick
      • Woodstock First Nation, New Brunswick
    • Interactive mapping for climate adaptation and emergency management planning
      • Eskasoni First Nation, Nova Scotia
      • Wagmatcook First Nation, Nova Scotia
      • We'koqma'q First Nation, Nova Scotia
      • Membertou First Nation, Nova Scotia
      • Potlotek First Nation, Nova Scotia
    • Evacuation plan development
      • Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, Labrador
  • Emergency management tools
    • Emergency communications equipment
      • Radio repeater system
        • Bilijk First Nation, New Brunswick
      • Mass communication system
        • Buctouche First Nation, New Brunswick
        • Eel Ground First Nation, New Brunswick
        • Ugpi'ganjig First Nation, New Brunswick
        • Fort Folly First Nation, New Brunswick
        • Indian Island First Nation, New Brunswick
        • Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation, New Brunswick
        • Pabineau First Nation, New Brunswick
      • Flood preparedness and response equipment
        • Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation, Labrador
        • Buctouche First Nation, New Brunswick
        • Northshore Micmac District Council, New Brunswick
        • Sipekne'katik First Nation, Nova Scotia
        • Abegweit First Nation, Prince Edward Island
    • Emergency Preparedness and Response Training
      • Nationally accredited SAR Fundamentals Training
        • Wolastoqey Tribal Council. New Brunswick
      • IAEM Conference
        • Northshore Micmac District Council
      • Round table exercise deployment training
        • Union of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq, Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Since January 2020, ISC has provided capacity enhancement funding to First Nations and tribal councils in all 4 Atlantic provinces to support First Nations Emergency Management Coordinators to plan for and deal with various natural emergencies, including flooding.

ISC, in coordination with Emergency Management Coordinators in Atlantic region, has developed a community of practice where information is shared including best practices related to all hazards emergency management preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.

In addition to providing funding support to First Nations on reserve under the 4 pillars of emergency management, ISC works collaboratively with provincial partners and other federal departments to support flood preparedness and mitigation.

New Brunswick River Watch is a dedicated water-level monitoring system and program to assist with flood planning and mitigation in the province. ISC monitors the New Brunswick River Watch program, participates in provincial river watch briefings and sends key situational awareness information to First Nations as needed.


(Quebec regional office)

ISC supports First Nations preparedness activities in Quebec, including emergency management plan updates, exercises and training.

Risk mitigation measures have been implemented in First Nations communities with the financial support of ISC. This includes:

  • addition of Waterguard system in houses that were at risk of flood due to high water tables (Nutashkuan and Kanesetake)
  • raising housing foundations in the groundwater flood zone (Listuguj)
  • sandbags in store in case of floods (Kanesatake and Mashteuiatsh)
  • alert system and evacuation plans (Chisasibi)

In addition to direct investments, ISC supports First Nations by way of the following measures and projects:

  • providing funding for the Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation to set up an emergency management assistance program for the benefit of First Nations
  • maintaining regional agreement with the Canadian Red Cross to support First Nations prepare for and during emergencies and evacuations, including conducting training and exercises related to disaster services and risk management and planning for disaster services

The Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec is responsible for civil security in Québec and supports municipalities in the protection of their citizens and property against disasters.

The Quebec-ISC bilateral agreement includes provincial assistance to First Nations in Quebec during disasters and allows the federal and provincial governments to collaborate on disaster risk management.


(Ontario regional office)

ISC works with its partners regularly to explore new and innovative ways to improve how emergency programs are delivered for the benefit of First Nations communities. ISC supports flood watch for the Mushkegowuk Council and the First Nations communities along the coasts of the Hudson Bay and James Bay including:

  • Attawapiskat
  • Fort Severn
  • Fort Albany
  • Kashechewan
  • Moose Cree
  • Weenusk

Other activities:

  • In fiscal years 2020 to 2021, 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023, funding was provided for community-led initiatives in Kashechewan and Fort Albany First Nations that enabled residents to temporarily move to higher ground in traditional hunting camps. This mitigated the risk of evacuating to urban centers during flooding caused by the spring ice break-up.
  • Budget 2019 announced national capacity funding of $43.7 million over 5 years for the creation of First Nations emergency management coordinators. In Ontario, 21 emergency management coordinators support First Nations capacity to plan for and deal with various natural emergencies, including flooding
  • As of the end of fiscal year 2021 to 2022, funding has been provided to emergency management coordinators at the following organizations:
    • Anishinabek Nation
    • Bimose Tribal Council
    • Grand Council Treaty #3
    • Independent First Nation Alliance
    • Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council
    • Mamawesen-The North Shore Tribal Council
    • Matawa First Nations Management
    • Mushkegowuk Council
    • Nishnawbe Aski Nation
    • Nokiiwin Tribal Council
    • Ogemawahj Tribal Council
    • Shibogama First Nations Council
    • Six Nations of the Grand River
    • Wabun Tribal Council
    • Windigo First Nations Council
  • Funding is available for First Nations and tribal councils leading emergency support specialist training for those providing front-line support during an emergency event. Areas of training include protection, incident management, aerial and imaging, resource management and wellness
  • New partnerships have been established with various First Nations communities and First Nations organizations to develop Indigenous-led security and protection teams to assist and protect First Nations residents when they are evacuated to host communities
  • Support was provided to build an Indigenous-led and operated rapid response deployable emergency team at Independent First Nations Alliance, Missanabie Cree First Nation, Sheshegwaning First Nation and Mamaweswen-The North Shore Tribal Council. These teams will deploy directly to First Nations communities dealing with emergencies to provide on-the-ground assistance
  • Support was provided to Missanabie Cree First Nation to establish and staff an Indigenous Emergency Operations Centre (IEOC), providing Indigenous-led-and-managed command, control and information-sharing services for during emergency events. In operation since April 2022 and accessible 24 hours a day, the IEOC provides critical co-ordination services to First Nations leaders on request
  • ISC continues to support First Nations-led solutions designed to increase host evacuation capacity in Ontario
  • In fiscal year 2023 to 2024, ISC will enter year 6 of a 10-year bilateral agreement with the Ministry of the Solicitor General designed to strengthen the province of Ontario's response capacity to natural hazards and events affecting First Nations


(Manitoba regional office)

Prevention and mitigation efforts are crucial to avoiding future situations such as the severe 2011 Manitoba flood. To date, ISC has invested more than $80 million to protect Manitoba First Nations from future flooding. This included approximately $54.9 million to construct permanent dikes or make temporary dikes permanent at 11 First Nations in Manitoba:

  • Berens River
  • Canupawakpa
  • Ebb and Flow
  • Kinonjeoshtegon
  • Lake Manitoba
  • Little Saskatchewan
  • O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi
  • Opaskwayak
  • Poplar River
  • Sandy Bay
  • Sioux Valley

A permanent ring dike has also been in place at Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation since 2004.

The province of Manitoba issues annual spring flood outlooks which ISC and First Nations in Manitoba use to evaluate and monitor for potential flooding.

Since January 2020, ISC has provided capacity enhancement funding to all 63 First Nations and 7 Tribal Councils in Manitoba to support communities' and Tribal Councils' First Nations Emergency Management Coordinators.

ISC supports First Nations in Manitoba during emergency events and will activate the Canadian Red Cross, when requested by Nations.


(Saskatchewan regional office)

ISC supports First Nations, tribal councils and First Nations organizations in Saskatchewan under the 4 pillars of emergency management on an annual basis to enhance emergency management capacity at the community level, including spring flood planning through the following:

  • creating community emergency management leads and liaisons to provide emergency management planning, guidance and advice to leadership, the First Nations and partners
  • forming community emergency management teams and committees
  • developing and updating community all-hazard emergency management plans, including all-hazard risk assessments
  • exercise design and related training, for example: basic emergency management, creating incident command systems and emergency operations centres, addressing emergency social services and training information officers
  • community engagement to enhance preparedness, response and recovery capacity

Through EMAP, ISC also supports:

  • annual First Nations Emergency Management Forum where Saskatchewan First Nations planning in sharing of emergency management initiatives and experiences, lessons learned, relationship building and partnerships
  • After Action Reports with First Nations, tribal councils and partners as part of post-emergency and evacuation assessments
  • EOC activation and training to coordinate and manage emergency events at community level
  • First Nations collaboration agreements developed with Canadian Red Cross for direct assistance during emergencies, including evacuations as well as preparedness and planning initiatives and training and exercises in risk management.
  • First Nations emergency social services preparedness and training
  • search and recovery capacity and training

ISC uses the Building Back Better strategy to support First Nations in response and recovery to reduce community vulnerability for natural disaster related emergency events and strengthen community capacity and resilience.

ISC also supports First Nations in responding to imminent threats, such as overland flooding, by reducing excessive snowpack and opening culverts and ditches in areas historically affected by rapid snow melt. In March of every year, ISC engages with First Nations, tribal councils, federal and provincial partners and non-government organizations specific to spring flooding to evaluate and monitor for potential flooding impacts to communities.

With investments from ISC, structural mitigation projects to address flooding are also underway in:

  • Big River First Nation, establishment of reserve drainage
  • Canoe Lake Cree First Nation, roadway and drainage upgrades
  • Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, roadway and drainage upgrades
  • Moosomin, road repair and drainage study
  • Muskoday First Nation, drainage improvements
  • Muskowekwan First Nation, roadway and drainage upgrades
  • One Arrow First Nation, drainage outfall repairs
  • Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, roads and drainage at Pelican Narrows, drainage and lot improvements at Southend
  • Shoal Lake Cree Nation, school grounds drainage
  • Star Blanket Cree Nation, community drainage at White Calf
  • Whitecap Dakota First Nation, community drainage and culvert work
  • Zagime Anishnabek, community drainage study


(Alberta regional office)

ISC continues to support Alberta First Nations on reserves in:

  • reducing the potential for flooding that threatens residents, houses and other infrastructure
  • responding to imminent threats
  • recovering from flood events

ISC uses the Building Back Better Strategy to:

  • support the restoration of communities and assets
  • reduce the vulnerability of First Nations communities to future flood events
  • strengthen community resilience to future flood events

ISC has a emergency management service agreement with the Province of Alberta. The agreement supports Alberta First Nations are fully integrated into the provincial emergency management system. This includes a direct provincial presence, as required, during emergency events on reserves that is integrated with the broader provincial response as well as preparedness training and emergency planning assistance.

ISC supports a number of projects on reserves specifically focused on preparedness and mitigation for overland flooding. Over the past few years, Alberta region has provided funding to the following initiatives in region, some are ongoing as a result of delays related to the pandemic:

  • First Nations Adapt funding for the Alberta Bow River Basin Flood Hazard Assessment Project, 2017 to 2018
  • Flood Plain Mapping project at Cold Lake First Nation, 2019 to 2020
  • Flood Risk Mitigation study at Frog Lake First Nation, 2019 to 2020
  • Flood Mapping for Little Red River Cree Nation, 2020 to 2021
  • Complete Flood Mitigation Study for Paul Band, 2020 to 2021
  • Master Drainage Planning projects at Alexander (2 years), Louis Bull, Montana, 2020 to 2021
  • High risk area drainage planning projects at Samson and Bigstone (2 years), 2020 to 2021
  • Flood Mitigation Study and Engineering Design for Tallcree First Nation, 2021 to 2022
  • Full Road Drainage Planning Project at Bigstone, 2021 to 2022
  • Road Drainage Master Plan at Beaver Lake, 2021 to 2022
  • First Nations Adapt funding provided to complete the Standoff Flood Hazard Mitigation Study, continuing the Government ofAlberta preparedness to mass flood events in the southern area of the province, 2021 to 2022

In addition, in the 2021 to 2022 fiscal year, capacity projects have expanded to pilots at the tribal council level to allow First Nations to focus on local project management and assist communities to work together and combine resources for preparedness, response and recovery. Ongoing collaboration and engagement for the discussion and evolution of emergency management supports available to First Nations in Alberta region, with discussions happening at all levels.

The goal for capacity funding allocations is that they will be determined by Alberta chiefs through agreed upon processes and recipients, with input from provincial and federal partners.

British Columbia

(British Columbia regional office)

ISC is committed to ensuring that First Nations affected by flooding in British Columbia are safe and secure, that a coordinated emergency management response is supported, and that communities are positioned for a strong recovery.

ISC has a bilateral service agreement with the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) to enhance the delivery of emergency management support services to First Nations on reserve in British Columbia

A Tripartite Emergency Management Memorandum of Understanding on emergency management services with the First Nations Leadership Council, the Province of British Columbia and ISC also sets the stage for a trilateral approach. The tripartite approach to emergency management advances meaningful recognition and enhanced capacity of First Nations with all pillars of emergency management, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.

The First Nations' Emergency Services Society (FNESS) works closely with First Nations communities, EMCR, ISC and other stakeholders to support the successful implementation of emergency management for First Nations communities in the province. ISC has provided capacity funding to FNESS so it can support First Nations in preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergency events.

In addition, ISC supports flood mitigation projects through the Capital Facilities Maintenance Program (CFMP) and the First Nations Infrastructure Fund (FNIF), while Crown-Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) has the First Nations Adapt Program. Projects in the following communities or managed by Indigenous organizations have been completed or are in progress to address potential flooding issues:

  • Cowichan
  • Gitanmaax
  • Gitwangak
  • Gwa'Sala-Nakwaxda'xw
  • Katzie
  • Kwadacha
  • Kwantlen First Nation
  • Leq'á:mel First Nation
  • Lower Kootenay
  • Metlakatla First Nation
  • Naut'sa Mawt Tribal Council, cost shared with First Nations Adapt
  • Nisga'a Village of Laxgalt'sap
  • North Coast First Nations, cost shared with First Nations Adapt
  • Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, cost shared with First Nations Adapt
  • Old Massett Village Council
  • Peters First Nation
  • Samahquam
  • Seabird Island
  • Soowahlie
  • Squamish
  • Sto:lo Nation and Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, cost shared with First Nations Adapt
  • Whispering Pines

ISC is working on various flood response and recovery efforts from the 2020 freshet season, 2020 coastal storm events, 2021 coastal storm events, atmospheric river events and the related 2021 riverine flood event along the Nicola River system.


(Yukon regional office)

Yukon regional office works with 14 Yukon First Nations and 3 First Nations located in northern British Columbia.

In the 2021 to 2022 fiscal year, 4 of 17 First Nations in Yukon region received EMAP funding:

  • Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation, Yukon
  • Selkirk First Nation, Yukon
  • Taku River Tlingit First Nation, British Columbia
  • Daylu Dena Council, British Columbia

This funding supported and enhanced emergency management capacity at the community level, including spring flood planning through:

  • investments in equipment for emergency preparedness and mitigation such as
    • handbooks
    • computers
    • printers
    • storage for emergency equipment
    • updating obsoleted emergency information or status display; and
    • communications equipment and purchase of a siren
  • development of local resource inventories
  • maintenance of emergency equipment
  • development and updating of community all-hazard emergency management plans, including all-hazard risk assessments
  • training and testing of emergency plans including table top exercises and evaluation of plans including basic emergency management, creating incident command systems and emergency operations centres, addressing emergency social services and training information officers
  • roles and responsibility training, guidance and advice to leadership, including governance and partner roles
  • community engagement through testing of plans to enhance preparedness, response and recovery capacity

In addition, Yukon experienced unprecedented flooding in the summer of 2021. The Government of Yukon is the lead in responding to all emergency situations, including flooding, for all Yukoners including First Nations. Many of the structural enhancements undertaken to mitigate flooding in 2021 have been maintained.

To date, 2 Yukon First Nations have requested and been given EMAP funding support in the 2021to 2022 fiscal year for flooding response and recovery efforts:

  • Carcross/Tagish First Nation
  • Teslin Tlingit Council

Did you find what you were looking for?

What was wrong?

You will not receive a reply. Don't include personal information (telephone, email, SIN, financial, medical, or work details).
Maximum 300 characters

Thank you for your feedback

Date modified: