Together, Nature United and the federal government contributed $30M to support Indigenous co-governance of Thaidene Nëné in the Northwest Territories, protecting 6.5M acres.
Indigenous Leadership: Together, Nature United and the federal government contributed $30M to support Indigenous co-governance of Thaidene Nëné in the Northwest Territories, protecting 6.5M acres. © Pat Kane

Who We Are

Working With Indigenous Peoples

Putting Indigenous Rights and Authority at the Heart of Conservation

As an organization, Nature United believes that the increased authority and capacity of Indigenous peoples to steward their lands and waters is critical for the future of healthy ecosystems and communities, and it results in effective and durable sustainable management over time.

What is Indigenous-Led Conservation?

Indigenous-led conservation is articulated, defined and implemented by Indigenous peoples, who may choose to partner with organizations like Nature United in order to advance their goals and priorities. Working together, our shared outcomes depend on strong relationships and significant investments of time, energy, and resources from all involved.

For over a decade, our organization has worked in partnership to support Indigenous-led conservation, which is defined and implemented by Indigenous communities, grounded in Indigenous values and perspectives, and often focuses on the interconnected issues of supporting vibrant communities, strong cultures, viable economies, and healthy ecosystems.

Nature United’s commitment to this approach is informed by a number of interrelated factors, including that Indigenous peoples are the original inhabitants and stewards of what we now call Canada; that the involvement of Indigenous peoples in managing lands and waters is recognized and explicitly mandated in Canadian and international laws; and that scientific evidence shows that place-based people manage resources more sustainably than others. We have also seen the power of this approach first-hand through our decade of experience in building partnerships on the ground.    

For more details, download a summary of Nature United’s Approach to Working in Partnership with Indigenous Peoples

As a conservation organization, Nature United has an important role to play in the reconciliation of relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada by seeking to understand past wrongs and co-create new pathways to sustainable conservation and social justice. Nature United is a member of the Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership.

And as part of an organization that impacts conservation in 79 countries and territories across six continents, we contribute to a global strategy for working with Indigenous peoples and local communities. Our global affiliate, The Nature Conservancy, aims to support Indigenous peoples and local communities as they strengthen their voices, choices and actions to manage natural territory in ways that improve lives and drive conservation. The Nature Conservancy is a signatory to the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights  Conservation Initiative on Human Rights (CIHR).

Learning Organization

As an organization, we are committed to learning from our mistakes and continuing to evolve, and change, our practices based on feedback from Indigenous partners, colleagues and friends. Our reflections on Indigenous-led conservation are offered with humility as we maintain our dedication to listening and learning.    

Whether we are working with specific Indigenous communities or creating tools and opportunities for Indigenous peoples across Canada to network and connect, working in partnership with Indigenous peoples is at the heart of our work. We have made an organizational commitment to “Be a Respectful Partner” and as such, are committed to taking responsibility at an individual, team and organizational level through:

  • Team Learning and Development: Building and strengthening the knowledge and practice within Nature United as it relates to Indigenous issues so we can build a culturally competent team and organization.
  • Organizational Policy and Practice: Developing and implementing relevant policies and practices to guide Nature United and The Nature Conservancy’s work with Indigenous peoples.  For example, Nature United has developed Communications Guidelines that inform and direct all communications with and about our work with Indigenous partners based on principles of Consent, Respect, Authenticity and Reciprocity.
  • Outreach and Education: Engaging with other non-Indigenous partners, allies and funders to build cultural competency and create alignment with our policies and practices related to Indigenous peoples.

Based on our experience working in partnership with Indigenous communities, we believe there are four interconnected elements that greatly impact Indigenous authority and capacity to steward lands and waters: governance, stewardship, leadership, and local economies. Our projects and activities—conducting research, hosting gatherings, supporting networks, enabling community exchanges, etc.—focus on these four elements:

1. Strengthening Governance

Indigenous communities must have an active decision-making role on matters pertaining to their territories. Ideally, Indigenous governments and others make and implement relevant stewardship-related laws, regulations, policies and plans based on their values and Indigenous legal frameworks. Examples of work developed in partnership:

2. Enhancing Stewardship Capacity

Indigenous communities must have local people with skills and resources to implement stewardship policies and plans, including on-the-ground stewardship managers, planners, specialists, technicians, guardians, and more. In addition, communities must develop the capacity, infrastructure and sustainable finances to support their stewardship efforts and priorities over time. Examples of work developed in partnership:

3. Building and Sustaining Leadership

Effective governance and stewardship activities need Indigenous leaders who are connected to their culture and territories, feel knowledgable and supported, are effective and impactful, and are respected by the community and others. Examples of work developed in partnership:

4. Supporting Local, Sustainable Economies

Indigenous-led conservation must include an economic development component (including community capacity, access to markets and entrepreneurial growth and success) that enhances cultural and ecological values while expanding opportunities for jobs and wealth creation. Examples of work developed in partnership:

  • One of the outcomes of MaPP will be First Nations engagement in fisheries management.

    New Fishery Opportunities

    We're building the business development and management capacity of First Nations-owned and operated fisheries in B.C.

Communities We Work With

Nature United supports and/or partners with Indigenous communities and organizations across Canada in many different ways, most often determined and led by Indigenous communities. This map offers a snapshot of the communities that our organization is actively supporting and/or partnering with, including links to stories about our work together.

Heiltsuk Nation
British Columbia
We work with Heiltsuk Nation on youth programming, stewardship capacity and sustainable economic development in Great Bear, and provide support through MaPP, Coast Funds, and CCIRA
Łutsël K’é Dene
NWT
Nature United has supported the Łutsël K’é Dene community for more than a decade in their work to establish Thaidene Nëné.
Chemawawin Cree Nation
Manitoba
Nature United has a formal agreement with the Chemawawin Cree Nation to work together for community-led conservation and sustainable economic development in Northern Manitoba.
Ahousaht
British Columbia
Nature United supports the Ahousaht Nation and Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society in land-use visioning, youth programming, sustainable economic development and stewardship
Kitasoo Xai'Xais
British Columbia
We work with the Nation on youth programming, stewardship capacity and sustainable economic development in Great Bear and provide support through MaPP, Coast Funds, and CCIRA.
Haida
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
Nuxalk
British Columbia
We work with the Nation on youth programming, stewardship capacity and sustainable economic development in Great Bear, and provides support through MaPP, Coast Funds, and CCIRA.
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation
Manitoba
Nature United supports Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in Indigenous-led land-use planning and Indigenous Guardians.
Tla-o-qui-aht
British Columbia
Nature United supports the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation in land use visioning, youth programming, sustainable economic development and stewardship capacity.
Wuikinuxv
British Columbia
Our support includes providing technical and financial resources to MaPP, Coast Fund’s conservation endowment, and fisheries work with the CCIRA.
Da'naxda'xw Awaetlala
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment that supports First Nation stewardship work in the Great Bear Rainforest.
K'omoks
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
Kwiakah
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment that supports First Nation stewardship work in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Mamalilikulla
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
'Namgis
British Columbia
Support from Nature United/TNC includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment that supports First Nation stewardship work in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Tlowitsis
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
We Wai Kai
British Columbia
Support from Nature United/TNC includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment that supports First Nation stewardship work in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Wei Wai Kum
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
Xwémalhkwu
British Columbia
Support from Nature United/TNC includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment that supports First Nation stewardship work in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Gitga'at
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
Gitxaala
British Columbia
Support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
Haisla
British Columbia
Support from Nature United/TNC includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment that supports First Nation stewardship work in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Kitselas
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
Kitsumkalum
British Columbia
Nature United provides technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
Lax Kw'alaams
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment that supports First Nation stewardship work in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Metlakatla
British Columbia
Our support includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment and providing technical and financial resources to MaPP that supports the Nation’s stewardship work.
Nisga'a
British Columbia
Our includes a $39M contribution to Coast Fund’s conservation endowment that supports First Nation stewardship work in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Misipawistik
Manitoba
Nature United supports Misipawistik Cree Nation in Indigenous Guardians, youth programming andIndigenous-led planning.
Opaskawayak
Manitoba
Nature United supports Opaskawayak Cree Nation in stewardship capacity and Indigenous-led planning.
Region of the Sahtú
NWT
Nature United supports planning efforts of the Sahtú Renewable Resources Board (SRRB), contributing to conservation and emerging leaders throughout the region's 5 communities.
Northern Youth Leadership
NWT
Nature United works with a pan-territorial and NWT-wide organization to bring new, emerging leaders on a research science vessel to engage community youth.
Delįnę
NWT
Nature United supports the community’s emerging leadership youth programming.
Tulíta
NWT
Nature United is working with this Sahtú community to support the Nio Ne Pęnę transboundary caribou management plan.
Sahtú
NWT
Nature United is working with the Sahtú community in Norman Wells to support the Nio Ne Pęnę transboundary caribou management plan.
Kaska Dene
YT
We are working with the Ross River Kaska Dene community to develop pathways for emerging leaders to engage in the Nio Ne Pęnę Transboundary Caribou Management Plan.
Smith's Landing First Nation
NT
We are supporting a guardians exchange between Smith’s Landing First Nation stewardship staff and the Ni Hat’ni Dene Rangers.
North Slave Métis Alliance
NWT
In 2019, Nature United supported a learning exchange of North Slave Métis Alliance stewardship staff to a guardians gathering in BC.

Communities We Work With Last Updated: January 2020

Go Deeper

For a more in-depth look at Nature United’s approach to working in partnership with Indigenous peoples to support Indigenous-led conservation, please request our full report.