What are some ways to engage youth?

Engaging with young people and sharing knowledge is often one of the most satisfying aspects of a guardian’s job. You may witness youth enjoying themselves, testing their strengths, and gaining new knowledge about their lands, culture, and themselves.

Add youth engagement to the planning phase of your guardian program. Think carefully about how and why you want to engage youth and build a plan to make it happen. Your plan should try to anticipate the time, staff resources, or budget needed to build bridges to the young members of your community.

Nature United has recently developed the "The SEAS Toolkit: A resource for planning your on-the-land Indigenous youth program", drawing on knowledge from the success of programs on BC's coast.

Here are some ideas and tips on strategies that other communities have used to engage youth in their Indigenous Guardian work: 


Ideas for Involving Youth in your Guardian Program

  1. Have guardians participate in career fairs, take-a-child-to-work days, youth gatherings, etc.
  2. Give presentations at schools on your work as a guardian. Prepare a slide show on ‘A Day in the Life of a Guardian’, share stories, bring in community experts and elders.
  3. Leave brochures or posters about your guardian program in schools and other places that youth gather.
  4. Have guardians be visible and in uniform at key community events like children’s celebrations, harvest festivals, Indigenous Day, etc.
  5. As part of your Indigenous Guardian program consider creating a "Junior Guardian" position to provide a youth with work experience or summer student employment.
  6. Provide formal opportunities for job shadowing or mentorships for young people interested in becoming guardians.
  7. Participate in fundraising activities for youth initiatives – donate a door prize, make food, provide transportation.
  8. Provide transportation and logistical support to youth activities such as school field trips, rediscovery camps, culture camps, canoe journeys, etc.
  9. Get youth involved in physical work that guardians are doing such as cleaning up significant cultural sites or campsites, building cabins, cutting hiking trails, etc.
  10. Set up a monitoring program for youth to participate in.
  11. Use tools such as social media, photography, video, GoPros, voice recording, drawing, crafting, writing, music, etc. to capture and share youth observations and experiences. See the story 'Grassy Narrows Youth - A Powerful Voice for the Land' for an inspiring youth video!

Ideas for Involving Youth in your Guardian Program

“In Lutsel Ke, every boat has a couple of kids in it and their role is to do nothing more than absorb and learn. Although it is informal, it's still called ‘nahatni dene’ or learn while doing. Folks with the program for 4-5 years have “graduated” but sometimes don’t have navigation skills or confidence so they go out to learn with more experienced senior land users.”

Steve Ellis, Tides Canada

“Every boat has a couple of kids in it and their role is to do nothing more than absorb and learn. Although it is informal we still..."