James Smith Cree Nation Debuts App-Based Emergency Alerts

emergency alerts talking stick

The James Smith Cree Nation has a new Indigenous-led emergency alert system, leveraging the new FirstAlerts feature on Talking Stick, an anonymous chat app by Ottawa-based TryCycle Data Systems.

The feature was announced by Chief Wally Burns on Wednesday, and comes nearly eighteen months following a devastating stabbing incident in the community that resulted in 11 deaths and 17 injuries. The James Smith Cree Nation is located 58 kilometres east of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

TryCycle Data Systems developed the Talking Stick app in partnership with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. The app allows peer-to-peer Indigenous support in Saskatchewan, allowing First Nations leaders to issue alerts on missing persons, natural disasters, and public safety emergencies.

“This is about putting control back into the hands of our people when we’ve felt underserved by the traditional emergency alert system,” says Chief Burns in an issued statement. “Using FirstAlerts is another way for us to feel safer as a community after we’ve lived through such tragedy.”

James Smith Cree Nation is pioneering FirstAlerts in Saskatchewan, allowing alerts to be sent directly to members through the Talking Stick app.

“People are using Facebook to get instructions about their safety, about gunshots being fired, about a missing child,” says TryCycle Data Systems’ CEO John MacBeth. “More than half of our employees are Indigenous and living in Saskatchewan — we had to do something.”

TryCycle also said it’s eager and ready to bring the FirstAlerts system to more First Nations communities.

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