Government of Canada continues to support First Nations leadership in conservation

News release

July 22, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

Indigenous Peoples have long been leaders in environmental stewardship, sustainable development, and natural resource management.

Today, the Government of Canada announced $600,000 in funding for 10 new projects, under the Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program. The funding will support the projects in 2020–2021 under the First Nations tier 1 stream of the Program.

The Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program strives to advance Indigenous-led work to protect and conserve ecosystems, develop and maintain sustainable economies, and reinforce cultural connection to the land. The 10 successful projects were chosen out of more than 100 proposals by a joint working group of First Nations experts and federal representatives. All proposals were reviewed against rigorous criteria for their benefit to Indigenous communities and sustainability.

Guardians act as the “eyes and ears on the ground.” These projects will enable First Nations to take action to monitor ecological health, maintain cultural sites, and protect sensitive areas and species. Both seasonal and full-time employment opportunities will be created as a result.

Indigenous Peoples are recognized worldwide as the protectors of nature, with Indigenous Peoples’ territories containing as much as 80 percent of the world’s remaining forest biodiversity. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Indigenous-led conservation programs to help protect ecosystems, species, and cultures for future generations.


“Reconciliation is a top priority for the Government of Canada. Our government recognizes that Indigenous Peoples have protected nature since time immemorial, which is why we are pleased to support their leadership in safeguarding our natural environment—for now and for generations to come.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“We are pleased to see these investments support the launch of new Guardians programs. It means more guardians will be shaping the future of their nations, and more lands and waters will be managed for the benefit of all.”
– Valérie Courtois, Director of Indigenous Leadership Initiative

Quick facts

  • Indigenous guardians are a key part of Canada’s Nature Legacy. To date, the Government has funded over 60 projects through the Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program, with a total investment of approximately $21.4 million.

  • The $600,000 in funding for 2020–2021 is divided into $60,000 for each of the 10 projects from across the country: Lennox Island First Nation Guardian Program, Prince Edward Island; Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick Guardian Program, New Brunswick; Atiku-napeu, Quebec; Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek Guardian Program, Ontario; Shkakamik Kwe Genwenmajig, Ontario; Fox Lake Cree Nation Guardian Program, Manitoba; Westbank First Nation Guardian Program, British Columbia; Williams Lake Indian Band Guardian Program, British Columbia; Ditidaht First Nation Guardian Program, British Columbia; and Kluane First Nation Guardian Program, Yukon.

  • Globally, Canada is home to 20 percent of freshwater resources, 24 percent of wetlands, 25 percent of temperate rainforest area, and 33 percent of remaining boreal forest.

  • The Indigenous Guardians Pilot Program contributes to the development of healthy and resilient Indigenous communities through fostering land-based activities and supporting the development of vibrant and sustainable local economies.

  • Indigenous guardians play a vital role in creating and implementing land-use and marine-use plans.

  • Indigenous guardians promote intergenerational sharing of Indigenous knowledge—helping to train the next generation of educators, ministers, and nation builders.

  • The next call for First Nations tier 1 proposals is expected be launched in fall 2020.

Associated links


Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

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

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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