Since starting at Nature United in 2013, Claire has helped develop and shape Nature United’s approach to working in partnership and collaboration with Indigenous peoples. She has worked on how Nature United can show up as a respectful partner, evolve the practice of being in right relations with Indigenous peoples, and continue to learn and change as an organization. In her current role, she focuses on opportunities to work in partnership to advance Indigenous-led conservation at broader scales with a focus on Indigenous governance and planning, Indigenous stewardship capacity, support for emerging and existing Indigenous leaders, and sustainable financing for Indigenous stewardship.
Before starting at Nature United, Claire was the coordinator of the Coastal Stewardship Network with the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative, providing support to member nations Indigenous Guardian programs. She has also worked as a Forestry and Environmental Advisor for Cowichan Tribes, and as a First Nations Outreach Coordinator for the Sierra Club of B.C.
She has a Masters in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University, where she focused on Indigenous values in community-based forestry, as well as a Bachelors in Biology and Environmental Science from Trent University.
When she’s not working, Claire spends time with family and friends. She loves to get outside and is happiest when she’s in the forest or near the ocean.
How would you describe Nature United’s approach?
We believe there is a different way to do conservation. We work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to achieve lasting outcomes for both people and nature. To do this, we need to be creative and flexible in building new pathways and approaches to support Indigenous-led conservation, and to make sure we show up as a respectful partner.
What have you learned over the last decade?
Through our direct experience at Nature United, we have seen that when Indigenous Nations have the authority to make decisions about managing lands and waters, it has led to more durable conservation outcomes, healthier ecosystems over time, and stronger communities. Projects like the decade-long partnership with the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation, prove just that; Working together to build strong relationships is at at the heart of long-lasting conservation and being a respectful partner.
What did you do before joining Nature United?
My background is in biology and community development. I feel privileged to have worked in various capacities to support Indigenous peoples who are leading the way in taking care of their territories, including working with Nations to establish the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network, which was one of the first networks of Indigenous Guardians in Canada.
What makes Nature United’s approach effective?
If we had to choose a single way to define Nature United’s approach, it would be our commitment to learning. In our work over the last decade, we have learned much and made mistakes along the way. Our practice as a conservation organization is adaptive and evolving! I feel proud of the work we are doing as Nature United. We are reimagining conservation by putting Indigenous rights and authority at the heart of our approach, and charting a new path that is based on listening to and partnering with Indigenous peoples.