two Indigenous Guardians patrol boats tied up at the shoreline
Kitasoo Watchmen Boats operated by the Kitasoo Coastal Guardian Watchmen and Spirit Bear Lodge, near Klemtu, BC. Boats are the most common way of getting around this mostly roadless region. © Jason Houston

Indigenous-Led Conservation

Indigenous Guardians

We support Indigenous Guardians who are the “eyes and ears” of their territories, taking care of and stewarding lands and waters across Canada.

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. 

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

Nature United is committed to supporting Indigenous Guardian programs in Canada.

Get Support for Your Guardian Program

A collection of best practices, experiences, webinars and resources for Guardian programs.

Visit the Indigenous Guardian Toolkit

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.

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.

Quote: Scott Harris

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 programs.

Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network

In late 2019, Nature United launched the Technical Support Team to offer additional, hands-on support to Indigenous Guardians.

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.

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. 

Support This Work

In 2021, we invested more than ever in Indigenous-led conservation. With your support, we can continue providing relevant support to Indigenous Guardians programs that leads to lasting impacts and relationships.