What are the benefits of Indigenous Guardian programs?

Indigenous peoples have been stewarding and managing their lands and waters since time immemorial. Guardian work is not something new, though the present day organization and expression of this role is.

As stories of success are shared and on-the-ground programs gain more experience, the benefits of Indigenous Guardian programs are increasingly being felt and recognized. A recent study of Coastal Guardian Watchman programs in BC quantifies these benefits. 

Communities report benefits such as:

  • Increased protection of cultural and ecological values.
  • More influence and control over resource management issues in the territory.
  • Increased assertion and expression of governance authority and nationhood.
  • Strengthened cultural engagement and expression.
  • Strengthened connections between youth and elders.
  • Meaningful in-community employment and livelihoods.
  • Increased use of Indigenous knowledge and integration into decision-making.
  • Improved community wellbeing.
  • Improved relationships and new connections with neighbouring communities.
  • Improved or “activated” relationships with external agencies.

Many communities and Indigenous organizations report, however, that the most important benefit of guardian programs is the invaluable role they play in reconnecting people to the land, to their culture and their traditions.

The very work of being a guardian, in whatever form it takes, supports the spiritual and physical well-being of the guardians and uplifts them as individuals, family members, community members, and descendants of their ancestors who also cared for the same lands. In turn, guardians support the wellbeing of the land. It is a circle of positive change that is supporting the greater well-being and strength of Indigenous communities. 

Story

Quantifying the Values and Benefits of Indigenous Guardian Programs on the coast of BC

“Having all of the benefits and activities of our Coastal Guardian programs written down in this report is so helpful because it provides a framework as our Guardian program continues to evolve and grow.  I can also use the findings in this report as ‘evidence’ when talking with government, industry and funders about the importance of our Guardian programs.” Ross Wilson, Metlakatla Stewardship

Story

Quantifying the Values and Benefits of Indigenous Guardian Programs on the coast of BC

Community resource

Analysis of Current and Future Value of Indigenous Guardian Work in Canada’s Northwest Territories - Indigenous Leadership Initiative and Tides Canada

Community resource

Valuing Coastal Guardian Watchmen Programs: A Business Case

This business case analysis of Coastal Guardian Watchmen programs was conducted by EPI International and commissioned by Coastal First Nation Great Bear Initiative and TNC Canada. The report examines the net value of program costs and benefits from the perspective of the First Nations that have these programs.

Community resource

Valuing Coastal Guardian Watchmen Programs: A Business Case