National Indigenous Guardians Network



Indigenous Nations across Canada have been stewards and Guardians of their respective territories since time immemorial. It is a sacred cultural responsibility to care for the lands, waters and the species that inhabit them. Indigenous Nations reasserting their Authority and jurisdiction over these lands and waters presents an opportunity to formalize and express this responsibility through initiatives like Guardians. This concept is not new – many Nations have been building their own systems of Guardianship, some for decades. The Indigenous Leadership Initiative (ILI) recognized that the time was opportune to extend the reach and impact of Indigenous Guardians and over the past four years has been at the forefront of advocating sustained support and national recognition of their importance. These efforts included hosting a Gathering in October 2016 of 200 Indigenous Guardians, where a vision for a National Indigenous Guardians Network (the “Network”) was expressed. Aspiring to catalyze, promote, support, connect and expand Indigenous Guardians initiatives across Canada, this vision empowers Indigenous Nations, governments, and our communities to honor and fulfill our cultural responsibilities to our homelands and to enable a true Nation-to-Nation partnership with the Government of Canada on responsible territorial land and marine stewardship. It also included a workshop in May of 2018. Persuaded by the power of this vision, the Government of Canada’s Budget 2017 committed $25 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to support a pilot Indigenous Guardians initiative to recognize Indigenous leadership in responsible environmental stewardship, sustainable development, and the management of natural resources in Indigenous territories. The Indigenous Leadership Initiative was asked by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada to play a leadership role in developing the pilot. The ILI is committed to ensuring that the design of the Network and the associated pilot is developed and implemented in the spirit of a Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Indigenous Nations in Canada and the Government of Canada.