What are the challenges of working with resource agencies?

Working with compliance and enforcement staff from resource agencies can sometimes be a frustrating experience. Some typical challenges you may encounter that get in the way of developing productive working relationships might include:

  • Resource agency staff may not have a well-informed understanding of Indigenous peoples, Indigenous stewardship issues, aboriginal rights and title, etc.
  • Lack of willingness or interest on the part of resource agency staff (and/or their senior management) to recognize or work with your Indigenous Guardian program.
  • Policies and procedures that stand in the way of working together in the field (i.e. safety policies, liability issues, insurance coverage, etc.).
  • Tensions due to unresolved treaties/settlements, court cases, jurisdictional issues, conflicting management approaches, economic priorities or personality dynamics.

With that said, there are many examples of Indigenous Guardians and resource agency staff working very effectively together, learning from each other, sharing information, strengthening each other’s skills and knowledge, conducting joint patrols, and collaborating to achieve greater compliance. There are some tested strategies you can use to overcome these challenges.

“There is a lot of animosity with the government in Alberta. Conservation Officers are not well liked and DFO is absent. In our context, it means relationship building from the very ground up… It requires building those relationships in two ways – at the formal Chief and Council level and building working relationships on the ground. As these relationships are improved and strengthened, we are working better together.”

Bruce Maclean, Mikisew Cree First Nation 
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“There is a lot of animosity with the government in Alberta. Conservation Officers are not well liked and..."