- Think about the training you need to deliver a successful program. A training plan can map out what training is needed amongst your crew, on what schedule, and at what cost.
- You may have some training that you provide every year to ensure basic safety. Other training may be targeted to a particular project or individual.
- Try to deliver training that is hands-on, practical, in the field when possible, and draws on the experience of seasoned guardians and land users in your community. Create opportunities for mentoring and on-the-job learning.
- Don’t focus exclusively only on technical skills training. Offer training such as interpersonal communications, cultural knowledge, conflict resolution, team building, and leadership skills.
- Support attendance at training by keeping it local, providing childcare, and scheduling it before or after demanding field seasons. Support those with literacy or numeracy challenges to fully participate.
- Look for opportunities to provide training in the community. By doing so, you may be able to bring guardian staff together with staff from other programs that can benefit from the training. Similarly, bring guardians from other communities in the region together to run joint training, reduce costs and strengthen relationships.
- Consider identifying individual staff to specialize in certain areas and tailor their training accordingly (e.g. archeology, forestry, compliance monitoring and enforcement, research or environmental monitoring).
- Learn from your training successes and mistakes. Invite formal feedback from course participants and instructors. Adapt your training approach and plan based on what you hear.
Resources in chapter Develop Training and Build Capacity
Indigenous Guardians spend most of their time outdoors and often in remote locations. It is critical that your Indigenous Guardians are properly equipped and trained to ensure they stay safe.
Identify which standard certificates and training courses are critical for your crew, both to ensure their safety and to meet any requirements set by your organization or your insurance provider. Use the Training and Certification Log Form to keep track of what each guardian has and when updates need to happen.
Often certifications related to safety and outdoor skills need to be renewed each year. Some communities set an annual schedule for when certain trainings will be available for their guardians. This way they know that everyone’s certificates are up-to-date.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Vehicle/Vessel Operations - Driver’s license, Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP), ATV Operator Certificate, Restricted Operator’s Certificate, Snowmobile Maintenance,
- First Aid Training - Wilderness First Aid, Basic First Aid, Basic First Aid with Transport Endorsement.
- Safety Training – Marine Safety Training, Swiftwater Rescue, Cold Water Safety, Firearms Safety/Possession and Acquisition License, Marine Emergency Duties (MEDA3), Wildlife Deterrence, Bear Aware, WHMIS.
- Outdoor Skills – Wilderness Survival, Map Use and Wayfinding, GPS, Small Engine Repairs, Emergency Shelters and Survival, Land and Water Travel, Use and Maintenance of Camp Gear and Equipment
Safety and Outdoor Skills for Indigenous Guardians
It’s important to identify what technical or “hard” skills your Guardians need to conduct the monitoring and field work you have prioritized for your program.
These skills vary from program to program depending on your priorities and activities.
Some monitoring and technical field skills include:
- Environmental Monitoring – water quality, construction/development sites, contaminated sites.
- Fisheries – electrofishing, fish identification, fish habitat, stream restoration, water monitoring.
- Wildlife – wildlife ecology, wildlife monitoring techniques, habitat survey, population survey.
- Forestry – forest inventory, vegetation, soil sampling, riparian inventory, habitat restoration.
- Restoration – stream restoration, habitat restoration
- Compliance Monitoring – relevant Indigenous laws, relevant Canadian laws and regulations, observe-record-report procedures, note-taking, evidence gathering
- Archeology and Cultural Heritage – archaeological inventory, culturally modified tree inventory, cultural site protection
- Natural Resource Management – land use planning, marine use planning, wildlife management, fisheries management, forest management, protected area management
Monitoring and Technical Skills for Indigenous Guardians
Indigenous Guardians need cultural skills and knowledge. It is important to create opportunities for guardians to work with and learn from elders and knowledge holders. This way guardians are grounded in the unique cultural context of their territory and understand the protocols and laws that apply to their work, and other important aspects of their language and culture. Some examples include:
- Indigenous Knowledge – cultural sites, harvesting sites, species information
- Language – local language, place names
- Cultural Protocols –protocols for harvesting, protocols for visiting areas in territory, protocols for sacred sites, protocols for interacting with neighbouring communities, etc.
- Indigenous Laws - local Indigenous stewardship laws and policies
- Indigenous Stewardship Plans and Agreements – existing plans/agreements/protocols signed by Indigenous community (land use plan, marine use plan, wildlife plans, chapters of settlement agreements etc.)
Cultural and Community Knowledge and Skills for Indigenous Guardians
Being an Indigenous Guardian requires strong communication skills. Indigenous Guardians interact with their community, the general public and resource users, and other resource management practitioners.
Your Indigenous Guardians are often a visible presence in your territory and therefore act as ambassadors for your community. This means they need to be comfortable and skilled at communicating with a diverse group of people in various situations. Some communication skills include:
- Interpersonal Communications – communication styles and approaches
- Conflict Resolution – dealing with conflict in the field, “verbal judo”
- Public Speaking – speaking with resource users in the field, presenting at community events, outreach with youth and community members
- Writing and Reporting – taking good field notes, daily/weekly activity logs, report writing
- Leadership – team-building, leadership styles, group dynamics
Communication Skills for Indigenous Guardians
The information and data your Indigenous Guardians collects is one of your program’s greatest assets.
Be sure your crew has the skills they need to adequately collect, document, input, store, and report on this information.
- Microsoft Office – excel, word and powerpoint
- Filing and Information/Data Management – file systems, downloading data, saving data, transferring data, inputting data
- Monitoring protocols – recording observations, data collection and input
Computer and Data Skills for Indigenous Guardians
- Can training be delivered in your community or will there be a need to travel?
- Does the training fit with your annual plan and crew schedule?
- Do available courses meet industry-recognized standards?
- Are the courses accredited at a university or college?
- Is curriculum culturally appropriate, does it incorporate Indigenous knowledge, and do instructors understand community values and protocols?
- Are different adult learning styles acknowledged and addressed in the training approach?
- Are the life and work experiences of Guardians recognized and acknowledged by trainers?
- Can available courses be custom designed to meet your specific needs?
- Is the trainer or training organization willing to work in partnership to deliver what you need?
- Do the training providers, instructors or institutions come recommended?
- Do they have a proven track-record delivering relevant training to Indigenous communities?
Checklist of Questions for Participating in Existing Training
- Do role-plays of different scenarios guardians are likely to encounter with their crew and in in the field. This can provide guardians with a chance to practice productive ways of working together and responding to the public.
- Organize field trips with elders and other knowledge holders to support guardians to integrate Indigenous knowledge of places, cultural sites, harvesting areas, etc. into their work.
- Provide an annual orientation for guardians to familiarize them with your community’s laws, plans, agreements, and policies.
- Help your guardians link their work directly to the vision and priorities of the community.
- If there are field-based consultants or other “experts” doing work in your territory, write into their contracts that guardians will join them for their fieldwork and ask that they provide training on the methods/techniques they are using. At a minimum, have guardians job-shadow them in the field to learn from their field skills and techniques.
- Organize joint patrols with resource agencies to build relationships, exchange knowledge, and gain practical field and patrol skills.
- Practice and test your crew’s competency in basic safety protocols by running mock emergency scenarios in the field. See how people respond, then debrief afterwards to review what people did well and what people could have done differently.
- Pair up new guardians with seasoned community members or senior guardians who are experienced at working and living out on the land and waters. This hands-on experience creates opportunities to build outdoor skills.
Mentorship and Hands on Learning Ideas
"We started out looking at the basic training that people needed to be in the field. Based on the priorities of Nations involved, we hired specialists to develop specific manuals and training for eel grass surveys, prawns, seals, etc. Then we moved to training on how to approach visitors and educate them about their territory. We developed a standardized training package with another network of First Nations as well as in partnership with a university. This allowed us to access bigger funding because we were working collaboratively, and now we have a 2 year training program."
"We started out looking at the basic training that people needed to be in the field. Based on the priorities of Nations involved..."
Learn more about the Coastal Guardian Watchmen program’s training approach:
Coastal Guardian Watchmen Program’s Training Approach
This worksheet provides a step-by-step guide to developing a training plan that focuses on: assessing program and individual training needs; prioritizing training; deciding on delivery of training; funding training; partnering with others; and evaluating training. Download it now
Step-by-Step Guide to Developing a Training Plan
“Who your trainers are can be key. Consider whether you are delivering training in a classroom, in a healing lodge, or at the site you will be collecting information. What supports do you have? How do you make sure people are supported? How do you ensure people can put their new skills to use so that training is linked to real world opportunities?"