New First Nation Safety Association Launches in Saskatchewan

A new organization hopes to improve the occupational health and safety of employees working for First Nations and First Nation businesses.

A new organization hopes to improve the occupational health and safety of employees working for First Nations and First Nation businesses.

Canada Day marked the official opening of the Saskatchewan First Nation Safety Association.

Toby Desnomie, CEO of the SFNSA, said the organization’s purpose is to empower First Nation communities to live injury free by helping to keep communities informed and educated.

The organization is targeting the province’s 70 First Nations, nine tribal councils and is to include First Nations businesses on and off reserve.

Desnomie has been working in the field of occupational health and safety for the past 16 years and often thought about creating a safety association for First Nations.

“Six months ago I said I already have it built in my head, now I’m just going to put it into action,” he said.

First he registered the not-for-profit organization, then established a board and is now working to find partners. Although the organization is still a work in progress, it is actively working to build its membership.

The association’s prime directives and guiding principals include: public safety awareness, advice, advocacy, training and management.

Desnomie said the role of the association is clear when it comes to providing advice.

“For example, water treatment operators — What is the minimum standard for training for supervisory initiatives with respects to occupation and health?” he said.

Desnomie said the SFNSA is there to answer any questions when it comes to regulations and legislation regarding safety.

When it comes to advocacy, the association’s role changes.

“With respect to that same water treatment operator, what happens if he breaks his leg while on the job?” said Desnomie. “He can give us a call at the association and we can help him through the bureaucracy of insurance, as well as, where he can go for different types of services and things like that.

”He believes training is essential when it comes to occupational health and safety issues.

“We can have the best system out there, but without competency training, it’s not going to work,” said Desnomie. “Training in all occupations whether it be construction or administration or public works or anything, they need a competency to actually perform their tasks and duties. We give them that training at cost, meaning we are a not-for-profit, so we aren’t out there trying to earn a profit off our First Nations. We are trying to give them adequate training, so they can benefit from it.

”At the moment, providing training is not the organization’s main objective, but is capable of doing so if needed.

“All of our training programs are approved and are under scrutiny, of course, by our other safety associations,” said Desnomie.

One of the benefits of the SFNSA is that rather than have participants travel to take part in training programs the association will bring the training directly to the First Nation, he said.

The SFNSA office is located in Fort Qu’Appelle in the Peace Hills Trust building.

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