What should your Indigenous Guardian program focus on?

One of the big questions for Indigenous Guardian programs is “there’s so much to do, what should we focus on?” It can be useful to take the time to articulate a vision for your Indigenous Guardian program and set strategic priorities. Both can help shape and provide guidance for what you will and will not do as part of your program. The Create a Vision, Plan and Prioritize chapter has tools to help you do this.

It is likely that there will always be more demands on your program than there are time or resources to do the work. It is important to recognize this up front and develop an approach that allows you to develop your capacity, build successful initiatives, and, over-time, demonstrate significant impact and real traction toward realizing your vision.

Often, what you focus on will be partly determined by what you can fundraise or rally resources for. While this is a reality you’ll have to continually wrestle with, be careful not to let your program be defined or guided by funding constraints alone. The Fund an Indigenous Guardian Program chapter has useful guidance. Continue to articulate the direction you want to take your program and pro-actively build allies and support around that larger vision. With time your program will grow to more comprehensively reflect your community’s priorities.

Don’t let limited resources keep you from getting started. Get your guardians out into the field by whatever means possible. Try strategies like piggy backing on opportunities when community harvesters or local resource agency staff are getting out in the field. Look to academic or non-profit partners or other government agencies who may be able to share or loan field equipment, transport, or build out programs with shared objectives.

Many programs get started by leveraging existing funding from other activities, by hiring seasonal staff, or by leasing or borrowing equipment. Get going, get the experience, and build it out from there.

“A Guardian program may seem overwhelming but remember, it might be linked to other initiatives that you’re already involved in. You may not have to start from scratch. You likely have relationships established with key players or partners on other topics and now you could be broadening that to include monitoring and Indigenous Guardians work. Build on these existing initiatives and relationships."

Kate Cave, Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources

“A Guardian program may seem overwhelming but remember, it might be linked to..."