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The Government of Canada supports Indigenous Guardians nature conservation with $30M fund

Press Release

From: Environment and Climate Change Canada

August 29, 2022 – Whitehorse, Yukon

Indigenous Peoples have been stewards of the natural environment since time immemorial. Canada is committed to working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in supporting Indigenous leadership, Traditional Knowledge, and Indigenous science in nature conservation to help ensure lands, waters, and ice are protected for generations to come.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, announced nearly $30 million in funding for more than eighty First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Guardians initiatives across the country. These initiatives to address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are taking place from coast to coast to coast, providing benefits for Indigenous communities, the natural environment, and species at risk, including boreal caribou.

Northern First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Guardians initiatives receiving funding include the following:

  • Carcross/Tagish First Nation Guardians to expand their capacity for deeper collaboration, monitoring, and management of wildlife and human activities in their traditional territory in southern Yukon and northern British Columbia
  • Inuvialuit Land Administration Guardians to develop and implement an Inuvialuit-led environmental monitoring program to support evidence-based decision-making, management, monitoring, and protection of the Inuvialuit settlement region, which includes Yukon and the Northwest Territories
  • Northwest Territory Métis Nation Guardians to build capacity and establish “eyes and ears” on the land to protect species and their habitats, to monitor and observe climate change and industrial-related impacts on their traditional homelands, and to facilitate opportunities for intergenerational knowledge transfer to youth

First Nations, Inuit, and Métis have always been stewards on their traditional lands, waters, and ice, monitoring ecological and climatic health, maintaining cultural sites, and protecting sensitive areas and species. Funding through Indigenous Guardians initiatives creates meaningful local employment and supports Indigenous leadership in conservation, providing a concrete example of reconciliation in action.

As countries from around the world travel to Montréal, Quebec, this December for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada will continue to demonstrate a leadership role in biodiversity and nature conservation. Along with international partners, Canada is championing both the development of an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework with clear targets and actions, as well as the important role Indigenous Knowledge plays in efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity and natural environments at home and around the world.

Quotes

“Canada’s conservation goals are only achievable by trusting and recognizing Indigenous traditional roles, knowledge, and science. In the spirit of reconciliation, the Government of Canada is committed to supporting Indigenous leadership in conservation. Programs such as Indigenous Guardians are crucial to protecting ecosystems, species, and cultures for future generations.”

– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The First Nation Guardian Initiative Program is a crucial step to continuing along the path that our Ancestors had carved out for us. Not only will this strengthen our connection with the land but it will also assist us in building strong and lasting collaborative relationships with our partner governments and neighbouring First Nations.”

– Maria Benoit, Haa Shaa du Hen, Carcross/Tagish First Nation

“The Northwest Territory Métis Nation Guardians, who have been caretakers of our lands for decades, welcome this recognition and multi-year support from Canada, which will help us gain a deeper understanding of the impacts of climate change and other activities on our traditional territory.”

– Garry Bailey, President, Northwest Territory Métis Nation

“Inuvialuit have been stewards of our lands since time immemorial. Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is committed to ensuring Inuvialuit stewardship of our lands across the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and will continue to work with the federal government to ensure initiatives like this take place alongside meaningful actions aimed at Reconciliation.”

– Duane Smith, Chair and CEO of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation

“First Nations, Inuit and Métis have been stewards of their land for thousands of years. Their Traditional Knowledge, experience and leadership are imperative to the success of Canada’s environmental goals. The Indigenous Guardians initiatives are an active step in reconciliation and an investment in our children’s greener future in the north.”

– Brendan Hanley, Member of Parliament, Yukon Territory

Quick facts

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada has invested more than $50 million in over 170 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Guardians initiatives since 2018, leading to job creation by Indigenous Peoples, while protecting nature and wildlife.
  • The federal government expanded its support for Indigenous Guardians in 2021, committing up to $173 million to support new and existing Indigenous Guardians initiatives and the development of Indigenous Guardians Networks for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. Funding for today’s announcement of over eighty newly approved Indigenous Guardians initiatives is allocated from this 2021 funding commitment.
  • At their core, Guardians initiatives reconnect Indigenous Peoples to the lands, waters, and ice of their traditional territory. This connection leads to profound benefits for both nature and the humans that rely on it. These benefits span across generations—healing communities, creating opportunities for youth, and engaging Elders for their guidance.
  • Indigenous Peoples have long taken care of the land we all share. United Nations data suggests Indigenous lands make up only around 20 percent of the Earth’s territory, but contain as much as 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity.
  • Please visit the Indigenous Guardians webpage for more information and updates on eligibility and future funding opportunities.

Associated links

Contacts

Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-230-1557
[email protected]

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
[email protected]

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