Indigenous Guardians are the “eyes and ears” of their territories—they are men and women who are using Indigenous knowledge and practices, blended with western science to monitor and steward their traditional lands and waters across Canada.
The roles and responsibilities of Indigenous Guardians are unique in each community: They are on boats patrolling for illegal activities, in rivers conducting fish counts, bringing together youth and elders on the land, and in forests educating hunters and campers. They collect data to inform their leaders, other governments, and companies who manage natural resources.
Nature United is committed to supporting Indigenous Guardian programs in Canada.
Indigenous Guardian programs lead some of the most important stewardship work on lands and waters across the country.
To build and run a Guardian program takes time, energy, effort and money. Sometimes this work can be challenging and leaves community members wanting to connect and learn from each other.
Since 2010, Nature United has worked to support Indigenous stewardship by providing technical support, networking opportunities and critical resources to Guardian programs.
More than 10 Years of Listening
How We've Supported Indigenous Guardians
A hallmark of Nature United’s work to support Indigenous Guardians is listening.
Indigenous stewardship leaders identified priorities at a workshop co-hosted by Nature United, Tides Canada and the Indigenous Leadership Initiative.
Nature United conducted an inventory of on-the-ground Indigenous stewardship programs, based on successes, challenges and opportunities identified in the 2014 workshop.
A business case co-developed by Nature United and Coastal First Nations showed the benefits of Indigenous Guardians.
The online toolkit was launched by Nature United. After two years, the toolkit had been visited by 10,000+ users and more than 1,500+ resources had been downloaded.
Nature United completes a successful 2-year pilot of the Technical Support Team, with 500+ people participating in webinars and more than 30 Indigenous Guardian programs receiving one-on-one support from the TST.
In 2017, Nature United launched the Indigenous Guardians Toolkit.
Indigenous Guardians have identified the need to share best practices, experiences, and access the best resources to help build and implement their programs. To address these needs, Nature United facilitated the development of the Indigenous Guardians Toolkit.
The Toolkit is based on a simple premise: to learn, share and connect. The Toolkit helps Indigenous communities get inspired by other communities, find practical information, and share experiences about Indigenous Guardian programs.
The Toolkit was built in collaboration with an Advisory Group rich with experience building and supporting Indigenous Guardian programs, as well as with Indigenous communities and practitioners from across Canada.
In late 2019, Nature United launched the Technical Support Team to offer additional, hands-on support to Indigenous Guardians.
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. Learn more.
The Technical Support Team is a team of facilitators who provide support to Indigenous Nations that are establishing or strengthening their Guardian programs.
The Technical Support Team exists to help Indigenous Guardians and their teams tap into relevant resources, knowledge, and connections to best do their work. The TST provides free, practical, and technical support that is tailored to meet the needs of Indigenous Guardians and program staff, including one-on-one calls, webinars on priority topics, and focused workshops.
“As always, we see our role as responding to the specific needs and realities of the Nations we work with," says Indigenous Stewardship Director Claire Hutton. "Right now, these needs are shifting, and we are doing our best to be nimble to meet folks where they are at in each of their unique circumstances with their Guardian programs.”
The Technical Support Team is just one example of how Nature United is providing remote, practical, and flexible support to people working on-the-ground, that will lead to lasting impacts and relationships. As part of our approach to working with Indigenous peoples, we put listening and learning first. So, we are listening to partners to learn how the Technical Support Team can have the most meaningful impact for Indigenous Guardian programs moving forward.