Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, has announced nearly $30 million in funding for more than 80 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Guardians initiatives across the country. These initiatives to address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are taking place from coast to coast to coast, providing benefits for Indigenous communities, the natural environment, and species at risk, including boreal caribou.

“Canada’s conservation goals are only achievable by trusting and recognizing Indigenous traditional roles, knowledge, and science. In the spirit of reconciliation, the Government of Canada is committed to supporting Indigenous leadership in conservation. Programs such as Indigenous Guardians are crucial to protecting ecosystems, species, and cultures for future generations,” said Guilbeault.

Northern First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Guardians initiatives receiving funding include the following:

  • Carcross/Tagish First Nation Guardians to expand their capacity for deeper collaboration, monitoring, and management of wildlife and human activities in their traditional territory in southern Yukon and northern British Columbia.
  • Inuvialuit Land Administration Guardians to develop and implement an Inuvialuit-led environmental monitoring program to support evidence-based decision-making, management, monitoring, and protection of the Inuvialuit settlement region, which includes Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
  • Northwest Territory Métis Nation Guardians to build capacity and establish “eyes and ears” on the land to protect species and their habitats, to monitor and observe climate change and industrial-related impacts on their traditional homelands, and to facilitate opportunities for intergenerational knowledge transfer to youth.

First Nations, Inuit, and Métis have always been stewards on their traditional lands, waters, and ice, monitoring ecological and climatic health, maintaining cultural sites, and protecting sensitive areas and species. Funding through Indigenous Guardians initiatives creates meaningful local employment and supports Indigenous leadership in conservation, providing a concrete example of reconciliation in action.

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Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault (left) with delegates at the recent Indigenous Guardians announcement. Image credit: Steven Guilbeault/Twitter.

As countries from around the world travel to Montréal, Quebec, this December for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada will continue to demonstrate a leadership role in biodiversity and nature conservation. Along with international partners, Canada is championing both the development of an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework with clear targets and actions, as well as the important role Indigenous Knowledge plays in efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity and natural environments at home and around the world.

“The First Nation Guardian Initiative Program is a crucial step to continuing along the path that our Ancestors had carved out for us. Not only will this strengthen our connection with the land but it will also assist us in building strong and lasting collaborative relationships with our partner governments and neighbouring First Nations,” said Maria Benoit, Haa Shaa du Hen (deputy chief) of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.

Environment and Climate Change Canada has invested more than $50 million in over 170 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Guardians initiatives since 2018, leading to job creation by Indigenous Peoples, while protecting nature and wildlife.

For further information, visit: Indigenous environmental leadership, funding, and initiatives

Featured image: Guillame Jullet/Unsplash.


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