Canadian Forest Service Publications
The role of disaster volunteering in Indigenous communities. Yumagulova, L., Phibbs, S., Kenney, C. M., Yellow Old Woman-Munro, D., Christianson, A. C., McGee, T. K., & Whitehair, R. (2019). Environmental Hazards, 20(1), 45-62.
Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 40426
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Drawing on Māori (Aotearoa-New Zealand), First Nations (Canada), and Navajo Nation (U.S.), case studies and practitioners’ experiences, this article addresses a gap in our understanding of the role of volunteers in emergencies and disasters in Indigenous communities. Enablers and challenges to effective volunteering in these Indigenous communities are discussed. Cultural enablers of volunteering include building capacity during non-emergency times, using all senses when volunteering, and supporting locally emergent psychosocial recovery institutions that are based on cultural understanding and trust. Resolving systemic barriers to volunteering would require institutional and organisational changes through governance, coordination and training. Practical recommendations for supporting volunteer management in Indigenous communities are made.
Plain Language Summary
This article addresses a gap in our understanding of the role of volunteers in emergencies and disasters in Indigenous communities, and discusses enablers and challenges to effective volunteering. Resolving barriers to volunteering would require institutional and organizational changes through governance, coordination and training. Our cases show that there is a need for more coordinated systems-oriented disaster preparedness and response that is built on Indigenous values and institutions. Volunteering in disasters provides benefits to health and emotional well-being, but can also lead to increased stress and burnout. Our cases demonstrate the need to find context-specific and culturally relevant ways to draw upon and coordinate the resources of the entire community and external services organizations. This will help to ensure the most effective response and recovery.