The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced that 28 Indigenous projects have been selected for early funding totalling just under $5.7 million as part of the Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program.
This funding will support new and existing Indigenous guardians programs across Canada. Both the Coastal Guardian Watchmen and the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance have been identified as being recipients of the funding.
The Pilot Program recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ rights and responsibilities to the land, waters, and ice of their traditional territories and provides support for environmental conservation. The federal government is supporting First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities in their stewardship work to protect sensitive areas and species, monitor ecological health, and maintain Indigenous cultural sites.
The 2017 budget committed $25 million for the Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program, which has received more than 60 applications for consideration. Application processes are being co-developed with Indigenous groups, and funding opportunities are likely to include both single and multi-year options.
The Coastal Guardian Watchmen play a critical role in all aspects of stewardship for Coastal First Nations – ensuring resources are sustainably managed, that rules and regulations are followed and that land and marine use agreements are implemented effectively.
They uphold and enforce traditional and contemporary Indigenous laws passed down over countless generations, and work together to monitor, protect and restore the cultural and natural resources of these coastal territories.
Although Coastal Guardian Watchmen provides a regional focus, each Nation has a unique program that monitors and stewards its respective territory, and carries on its own stewardship traditions.
Locally, Nuxalk identity and spirit are intricately tied to ancestral land and aquatic resources, and it is the responsibility of all living Nuxalk to honour the wisdom of their ancestors, respect their lands and waters, and re-establish a healthy balance with their environment.
The Nuxalk Guardian Watchmen program strives to uphold this ancient tradition, by implementing projects in conservation, assessment, enhancement and monitoring.