How will your Indigenous Guardian program be structured?

Determining how your program will be structured is an important part of your planning process. It can also be considered and reconsidered at various points during the lifetime of your guardian program.

For some communities, going through a process to create a strong vision and plan for the program can help to understand your program’s relationship to other initiatives and where it fits within any existing organizations or departments (i.e. Land and Resources Department, Treaty Office, Fisheries Office, etc.)

Other factors that may influence the structure of your program include:

  • Where existing capacity and champions lie.
  • The guardian program’s focus and main activities.
  • The realities of funding and resourcing generally.

The role of Indigenous Guardians is often interdisciplinary. Therefore, guardian programs can serve to integrate different stewardship related programs, activities and initiatives.

Here are some examples of governance structures related to guardian and stewardship work from different Indigenous communities:

  • The Kitasoo Xai’xais have situated their Coastal Guardian Watchmen program within their Integrated Resource Authority (KXIRA) under Chief and Council and advised by the KXIRA Committee.
  • Metlakatla First Nation has established the Metlakatla Stewardship Society (MSS) under the BC Societies Act. The MSS’s Board oversees the Metlakatla Nation’s Stewardship Office.
  • The Arctic Borderlands Ecological Society is governed by a Board of Directors who meet on a monthly basis. Directors represent arctic communities as well as government representatives from resource councils, federal government, etc.
  • Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources is governed by a Board of Directors made up of representatives from five member communities. Each community’s Chief Councillor sits on the Board.

“We now have a single stewardship authority – the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Integrated Resource Authority. Before, there were different groups doing different work. There was Treaty, marine use planning, food/fish committee, etc. We wanted all this under one umbrella with an integrated board, aligned committees and better information flow between them.”  

Doug Neasloss, Resource Stewardship Director and Chief Councillor, Kitasoo Xai’xais

“We now have a single stewardship authority – the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Integrated Resource Authority..."