What are some different approaches to training for Indigenous Guardians?

There are a number of ways you can approach training for your Indigenous Guardians, such as participating in existing training, developing new training, or seeking out mentoring and hands on learning opportunities. As you decide, be sure to think about and ask your guardians what kind of training they prefer. This can help you increase buy-in, engagement and attendance.

Participate in existing training

There may be relevant training providers, college or university programs, and certificate courses already up and running and available in your region. When possible, meet with instructors or educational institutions early on to determine if training can be delivered to meet your specific needs.

Think about incorporating cultural knowledge and locally adapted content into more formal or structured training. This can help make trainings more appropriate and meaningful to participants.  Standard courses that have not been adapted for local delivery may fall flat and leave your guardian crew feeling disengaged or overwhelmed. Be sure to work through how to adapt and deliver courses in the most effective way with any given trainer or institution you engage with.

Here are some important questions to think about when considering participating in existing training:

Checklist

Checklist of Questions for Participating in Existing Training

  1. Can training be delivered in your community or will there be a need to travel?
  2. Does the training fit with your annual plan and crew schedule?
  3. Do available courses meet industry-recognized standards?
  4. Are the courses accredited at a university or college?
  5. Is curriculum culturally appropriate, does it incorporate Indigenous knowledge, and do instructors understand community values and protocols?
  6. Are different adult learning styles acknowledged and addressed in the training approach?
  7. Are the life and work experiences of Guardians recognized and acknowledged by trainers?
  8. Can available courses be custom designed to meet your specific needs?
  9. Is the trainer or training organization willing to work in partnership to deliver what you need?
  10. Do the training providers, instructors or institutions come recommended?
  11. Do they have a proven track-record delivering relevant training to Indigenous communities?
Checklist

Checklist of Questions for Participating in Existing Training

The Coastal Stewardship Network in partnership with Vancouver Island University approached their guardian training using a blended model of existing university courses with new custom developed courses to meet the specific needs of guardians. This article describes their pilot program that resulted in the larger program offered today in partnership with the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Society. It is described in the story 'Building Knowledge, Skills and Family through Stewardship Technicians Training on BC’s Coast'.

Develop new training

It may be that you need to design and develop a new course or program altogether. If this is the right approach for you, look for trainers and training institutes open and willing to work with you who have experience developing training for Indigenous learners. On the one hand, developing new courses or programs can be both expensive and time consuming. On the other, the results will specifically meet the needs your community and other communities have into the future. Also consider if there are any key partners who could provide funding and support to develop and implement the new training.

Mentorship and Hands-On Learning

Whenever possible, build hands-on and field-based learning experiences for your guardian crew. One of the most effective ways to learn, absorb and practice new skills is by working directly alongside more experienced staff, elders or mentors out on the land and waters, learning-by-doing.

See Tipsheet below for examples of how Indigenous Guardian programs integrate mentorship and hands-on learning opportunities:

The Coastal Stewardship Network in partnership with Vancouver Island University approached their guardian training using a blended model of existing university courses with new custom developed courses to meet the specific needs of guardians. This article describes their pilot program that resulted in the larger program offered today in partnership with the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Society. It is described in the story 'Building Knowledge, Skills and Family through Stewardship Technicians Training on BC’s Coast'. Develop new training It may be that you need to design and develop a new course or program altogether. If this is the right approach for you, look for trainers and training institutes open and willing to work with you who have experience developing training for Indigenous learners. On the one hand, developing new courses or programs can be both expensive and time consuming. On the other, the results will specifically meet the needs your community and other communities have into the future. Also consider if there are any key partners who could provide funding and support to develop and implement the new training. Mentorship and Hands-On Learning Whenever possible, build hands-on and field-based learning experiences for your guardian crew. One of the most effective ways to learn, absorb and practice new skills is by working directly alongside more experienced staff, elders or mentors out on the land and waters, learning-by-doing. See Tipsheet below for examples of how Indigenous Guardian programs integrate mentorship and hands-on learning opportunities:
Tipsheet

Mentorship and Hands on Learning Ideas

  • 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.  
Tipsheet

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."

Scott Harris, Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network
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"We started out looking at the basic training that people needed to be in the field. Based on the priorities of Nations involved..."