Guardians contribute to cultural revitalization, community wellness and conserving biodiversity, like the old-growth forests in Tla-o-qui-aht territory, where Terry Dorward works as projects coordinator for Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks. Photo Credit: Stephanie Wood / The NarwhalEnvironmentSociety Canada
First-of-Its-Kind Network of Indigenous Guardians
Indigenous Guardians programs across Canada are finally being regrouped through a network for the first time, thus securing funding, improving the sharing of resources and values, and strengthening their role as stewards of the land.
“It’s a chance to assert your authority over territory,” states Jimmy Morgan, lead Guardian for the Gitanyow Guardians program in northern British Colombia. “Not that we own it, but that we’re here to take care of it.”
First Nations Guardians requested the establishment of a network to facilitate their role on the ground in 2014. The First Nations Guardians Network regroups more than 120 guardian programs – there were only 30 a decade ago – and will be granted $5.8 million from the federal government to cover operations through to 2026. Those operations include search and rescue parties and wildlife monitoring. By connecting guardian programs, data management will be easier to handle, and resources can be shared and accessed in a quicker and easier way. Hopefully, the creation of the network will help establish the role of guardians as a profession in Canada as they are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the ancestral territories.