Our Work

Indigenous Guardians

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. 

Because TNC Canada is deeply supportive of these efforts, we:

  • Provide technical tools to support Indigenous communities building and implementing their Guardian programs
  • Facilitate networking between Indigenous communities to foster learning
  • Conduct research to demonstrate the value and benefits of Guardian programs
  • Work in partnership with other Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations and governments to advance Guardian issues locally, regionally, and nationally.

Indigenous Guardian programs across Canada are breaking new ground and doing some of the most important stewardship work in the country. But there is much effort that goes into establishing, funding, and managing these programs, which can sometimes leave Guardians feeling isolated or under-resourced. 

You can support this work when you make a secure, online donation to TNC Canada.

indigenous guardians toolkit
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Indigenous Guardians have identified the need to share best practices, experiences, and resources to help build and implement their programs. To address these needs, TNC Canada facilitated the development of the Indigenous Guardians Toolkit. 

The Toolkit is based on a simple premise: to support and share practical resources among Indigenous Guardian programs. 

“At Norway House Cree Nation, we are interested in starting an Indigenous Guardians program based on our Indigenous Laws to manage and care for our territory. This would be a program to strengthen and live out our cultural knowledge, pride and values. Having a toolkit based on experiences from other Guardian programs will be a great asset to support us as we start to plan and build our program.” — Loretta Bayer, Councillor, Norway House Cree Nation

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.

“The information presented in the Indigenous Guardians Toolkit is in-depth and practical.  It makes us realize we are not alone on this journey. The Toolkit helps us think about things we want to work on to make our Network stronger and more valuable as we support our member communities to develop their Indigenous Guardian programs.” — Scott Harris, Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

The Toolkit is an online platform where Indigenous communities across Canada can learn, share and connect about building and implementing Indigenous Guardian programs. The Toolkit includes:

  • Practical information, tips and resources
  • Downloadable worksheets and templates to use and modify
  • Stories of Guardians at work and quotes from people on-the-ground
  • A map of Guardian programs across Canada

“The Indigenous Guardians Toolkit is such an exciting and timely initiative!  We have been trying to build our guardian program for several years now, but haven't really figured out how to get one going. We are grateful to finally have a toolkit to help us get it done and we are looking forward to using the Toolkit to learn from other Nations and be inspired as we build our guardian program. Mussi cho to the nations and organizations behind this valuable initiative!" — Lana Lowe, Fort Nelson First Nation

This map is just one part of the complete Toolkit, showing the expansion of Indigenous Guardian programs across Canada.

Donate to TNC Canada now and help us build capacity for Indigenous Guardians programs across Canada.

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If you are part of an Indigenous Guardian program, you can add your pin to the map, learn about, and connect with other programs.

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