Indigenous Stewardship & Guardians
Indigenous Guardians have provided critical emergency response capacity in communities during the pandemic. Beyond the current crisis, Indigenous stewardship programs support cost-effective and local monitoring of environmental and cultural values. Indigenous stewardship programs are essential in establishing and managing IPCAs and other formal conservation designations within Indigenous territories. They create stable, well-paying jobs (often in remote communities) with numerous indirect economic benefits such as improved health outcomes, food security, and cultural and language revitalization.
An analysis of the Guardian Watchmen programs on the BC coast found a 10:1 ROI annually for numerous social, cultural and economic Indigenous values. An evaluation of the Dehcho and Akaitcho communities in the North found that between 2008-2016 Indigenous-led stewardship programs hired 32 Indigenous Guardians for an average tenure of 3.6 years.
The Green Budget Coalition recommends that the federal government significantly increase investments in Indigenous Guardians for both existing and new programs.
Indigenous-led efforts such as the Indigenous Leadership Initiative and Land Needs Guardians are calling for significant new investments in Indigenous-led conservation. In the spirit of reconciliation, the Green Budget Coalition affirms its support for these efforts and their budget requests and thus recommends:
1) Committing to Indigenous-led conservation, including Indigenous-led land use planning, the creation of IPCAs, and stewardship programs such as Indigenous Guardians, as a vital component of Canada’s domestic plan to protect 25% of its lands and waters by 2025.
2) Investing $831.5 million over five years to support existing and new Guardians ramping up to at least $300 million per year by year 5 as requested by the Assembly of First Nations, and then $300 million per year ongoing.
Amanda Reed – firstname.lastname@example.org