A boat operated by the Kitasoo Coastal Guardian Watchmen and Spirit Bear Lodge, near Klemtu, British Columbia
Doug Neasloss A boat operated by the Kitasoo Coastal Guardian Watchmen and Spirit Bear Lodge, near Klemtu, British Columbia © Ruth Fremson / New York Times

Investing in People

Remote and Resilient Relationships

How we’re offering flexible, remote support to Indigenous Guardian programs.

In the midst of a global pandemic, our relationships have been put on the forefront—be it with our fellow humans or lands and waters—the way in which we interact with one another has changed, our relationships have changed. Right now, virtual and remote support is paramount in how we communicate and engage with Indigenous Nations who face significant changes and unprecedented challenges. 

In February 2020, Nature United introduced our latest initiative to support Indigenous Guardians. The Technical Support Team is a team of three facilitators who will provide virtual support to Indigenous Nations that are establishing or strengthening their Guardian programs. 

Our Approach

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.

A Critical Resouce at a Critical Time

It couldn’t have come at a more pressing time. In response to COVID-19, Indigenous peoples' role and authority in stewarding lands and waters is more critical than ever. But Indigenous Guardian programs are facing unique challenges ranging from Guardians being part of their Nation’s frontline response to COVID-19, responding to shifts in program funding, determining how to conduct field work safely, providing food for community members, and considering priorities and possibilities for the future

“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, on-the-ground, flexible support, 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 across Canada in this time of crisis. 

Facilitating Conversations
Facilitating Conversations As a member of the Technical Support Team, Jonaki Bhattacharyya, supports dialogue between Indigenous Guardians at a gathering in Manitoba in February 2020. © Nature United
Providing Support
Providing Support Jimmy Morgan led a group discussion about challenges and solutions for Indigenous Guardians at a workshop in Manitoba in February 2020. © Nature United

Why Now: Resilience in Action during COVID-19

Over the last decade, there has been an upsurge in Indigenous Guardian programs; Nature United's own mapping now counts 50-plus programs, as far north as Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories, more than 20 programs in British Columbia alone, and in nearly every province and territory.

This is good news for both nature and communities: A report commissioned by Nature United and Coastal First Nations in 2016 showed that Guardian programs have extensive and wide-ranging benefits. And in this uncertain time, it's more important than ever to ensure Indigenous-led conservation is embedded into the fabric of stronger, more resilient communities.