Educating Youth About Wildfire Mitigation and Prevention Cultural Burning and Prescribed Fire 

British Columbia has a long history of wildfires. In recent years, we have experienced more frequent and severe wildfires, which will not be going away anytime soon. To adapt, we must be proactive and educate ourselves and our children about wildfire prevention and mitigation, including the benefits of tools like cultural burning and prescribed fire. The best resource for learning about these topics is the new FireSmart BC Education Program.

The FireSmart BC Education Program

The FireSmart BC Education Program is a free, all-in-one teaching resource. It is designed to introduce FireSmart concepts to students in grades K-12, including how to make homes and communities more resilient to wildfire – knowledge that is crucial for the next generation. Lessons are interactive, inclusive, and purposefully aligned with the B.C. school curriculum, making them easy to teach and fun to learn!

The program resources are separated by grade level and include a variety of themes related to wildfire prevention and mitigation. The lessons provide a solid foundation of knowledge that will help empower youth to become champions of wildfire resilience. 

Imparting Cultural Burning and Prescribed Fire Knowledge

The FireSmart BC Education Program offers many insights into wildfire resilience and preparedness. It also provides valuable information on the history of fire and different wildfire mitigation tools like cultural burning and prescribed fire that can help bring back balance to our forests and reduce wildfire risk to communities. 

Understanding that not all fire is bad is an important learning outcome of the FireSmart Education Program. After many years of fire suppression in the province, British Columbians must understand that many ecosystems need periodic fires to survive. Applying controlled fire at the right place and time can help achieve several different objectives, including bringing balance back to our forests. 

Below is an overview of some of the other valuable learning themes: 

Lessons from First Peoples

When it comes to understanding fire, First Peoples hold deep knowledge. Indigenous communities have in many ways been leading wildland fire mitigation and prevention in Canada since time immemorial. Fire is sacred for many communities, shaping the lives of humans, plants, animals, and Mother Earth herself. Through traditional burning practices, First Peoples have been able to shape their environments to their specific needs. Due to this long-standing relationship with fire, many valuable lessons can be learned from First Peoples. 

The FireSmart BC Education Program includes important insights from First Peoples. For example, students will learn:

  • What it means to respect fire
  • The benefits of cultural burning
  • How fire can be used to care for the land
  • How prescribed fire can help reduce wildfire risk
  • The history of cultural burning suppression and how it has impacted the province

These lessons show how fire can be a beneficial tool for ecosystem health, wildfire mitigation, and various cultural objectives. Lessons from First Peoples highlight the importance of “good fire” and how it can help enhance forests, wildfire, ecosystems and communities. 

Ecosystem Stewardship

In addition to the important lessons learned from First Peoples, there are several lessons surrounding ecosystem stewardship included in the FireSmart BC Education Program. Ecosystem stewardship refers to the responsible use and protection of the natural environment through active participation in conservation efforts and sustainable practices. Cultural burning and prescribed fire are two examples of ecosystem stewardship in action. 

Key ecosystem stewardship lessons covered in the FireSmart BC Education Program include:

  • The important impacts prescribed fire can have on ecosystem health
  • How attitudes, laws, and actions related to colonialism are related to wildfires

By learning about effective ecosystem stewardship, students will be able to develop a deeper understanding of the effects that our actions have on the environment, both positive and negative. 

Climate Change

Climate change has caused wildfires to become more intense and frequent over the years. This is evident when looking at the 2023 wildfire season – the most devastating in BC’s recorded history. Wildfires can’t be eliminated, but we can understand the causes and how to minimize the negative impacts through proactive preparation methods. That’s why the FireSmart BC Education Program contains several lessons that focus on climate change. 

Through these lessons, students will explore:

  • The relationship between climate change and wildfires
  • How environments are becoming hotter and drier throughout the year
  • The impact climate change has on wildfire fuel, ignition, and weather
  • What individuals can do to mitigate the causes and effects of wildfires

This knowledge is vital as BC students face a future where climate change will continue to impact their lives. These lessons provide the tools they need to build resilience at home, in their communities, and across the province. 

Why is this Knowledge Important?

To make our province fire-resilient, we need to invest in our youth. By covering topics related to cultural burning and prescribed fire, students of all ages will gain a better understanding of the benefits fire can offer, how it can be used to reduce wildfire risk, and how we can continue to learn from Indigenous fire stewardship knowledge in our pursuit of a more prepared and resilient province. 

To learn more about cultural burning and prescribed fire, visit

For more information on cultural burning and prescribed fire youth education, visit

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