- Get clear on why you want and need a Guardian program and what issues or priorities you are trying to address.
- Consider the real-world context you will be building your program in – a SWOT analysis can help you to do this (SWOT - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
- Get community leaders and other community champions involved with the Indigenous Guardian program right from the start to build awareness and support for the program.
- Reach out. Build a network of program allies that can support and strengthen the work you are doing in various ways and in different forums – think community, government, private sector, researchers, philanthropy, etc.
- Reach out to established Indigenous Guardian programs in other places to learn from their experience, create excitement around your program, and save yourself time and money you might otherwise spend re-inventing the wheel.
- Don’t wait for everything to be 100% in place to get going. Just get started and build on the experience, capacity and momentum you’ve built up implementing other initiatives.
- Root your program in a few well-run initiatives before scaling up too fast.
- Be creative, even in the face of budget constraints, and get Indigenous Guardians out on the lands and waters by any and all means.
- Know that building a program takes time, effort, patience and persistence. Help community members understand what it takes to do this work, share information with them, and encourage them to walk the path with you as you develop the program.
Resources in chapter Start an Indigenous Guardian Program
Meeting Summary - Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Stewardship Guardian Program and Sustainability Authority
"Going to see other programs is invaluable when starting a program. Most community members are interested in Guardian programs but don't know how to get over the hump to get things started. The community may have an idea but will benefit hugely by visiting other Nations who have programs established. It's the spark of inspiration a Nation needs to see how others are doing it and say 'hey this is doable, we can do this."
"Going to see other programs is invaluable when starting a program..."
Aboriginal Guardian and Watchmen Programs in Canada: Recommendations for building successful programs - Ecotrust Canada and Northeast Superior Regional Chiefs' Forum
How Nations Can Work Together and Still Maintain Autonomy: North Slave Métis Alliance Learns from the Ha-may-as Stewardship Network
Bonded by Their Relationship to the Land: Tahltan Host Kwadacha Land Guardians during a Community Visit
Section: Where are you starting from?
"You have to start somewhere. Consider your size and capacity. What are your assets? What are your resources? Can you think about this as a pilot for the first couple of years? A pilot allows people to start before they have all the pieces in place."
"You have to start somewhere. Consider your size and capacity. What are your assets..."
Use this Worksheet to think about the lay of the land for your Indigenous Guardian program. What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that shape and influence your existing or emerging Indigenous Guardian work. Download it now
Conducting a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
Section: Who are your friends and allies?
“From the very beginning, map out and identify what people, programs, organizations, or potential partners can help you to build an effective program and reach your goals. It's all about relationships.”
“From the very beginning, map out and identify what people, programs, organizations, or potential partners can help..."
Building a strong network of friends and allies will help your Indigenous Guardian program be sustainable and more effective over the long term. Use this worksheet to think through connections both within and outside your community and how they can support and help strengthen your guardian work.
Mapping your Friends and Allies
“A Guardian program may seem overwhelming but remember, it might be linked to other initiatives that you’re already involved in. You may not have to start from scratch. You likely have relationships established with key players or partners on other topics and now you could be broadening that to include monitoring and Indigenous Guardians work. Build on these existing initiatives and relationships."