Government of Canada invests in 10 First Nations Guardians initiatives

News release

An Indigenous Guardian surveys a mountainous landscape on horseback
Indigenous Guardians initiatives enable First Nations to monitor ecological health, maintain cultural sites, and protect sensitive areas and species, while creating jobs.

June 3, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario

Indigenous peoples have been stewards of our natural environment since time immemorial. The Indigenous Guardians Pilot recognizes the many lessons that can be learned from Indigenous partners across the country and relies on Indigenous experience and Traditional Knowledge to ensure lands and waters are protected for generations to come.

Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced $600,000 in funding for 10 new initiatives under the Indigenous Guardians Pilot. Guardians act as the “eyes and ears on the ground.” These initiatives will enable First Nations to monitor ecological health, maintain cultural sites, and protect sensitive areas and species, while creating jobs.

As part of the $600,000 investment, the Deninu K’ue First Nation, located in the Northwest Territories, received $60,000 to monitor harvesting activities in Resolution Bay in order to prevent overfishing and irresponsible tourism. Guardians will continue their presence as stewards of the lake and educate travellers and community members about the cultural importance of the area, the history of the land and water, and the future generations that will rely on it.

The 10 successful initiatives were chosen by a joint working group of First Nations experts and federal representatives, and reviewed against rigorous criteria for their benefit to First Nations communities and sustainability.

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Indigenous leadership in conservation to help protect ecosystems, species and cultures for future generations. Budget 2021 proposes to invest an additional $2.3 billion to conserve nature, including by continuing to support Indigenous Guardians.


“Indigenous Guardians are an essential part of Canada’s path forward, both for protecting nature and working towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. With the funding announced today, these 10 First Nations communities will better protect lands and waters for future generations, while creating good local jobs.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“These investments will put more Guardians on the ground, caring for the lands and waters we all depend on. Indigenous Nations are ready to lead on stewardship. By building on the success of the Pilot Program and strengthening the partnerships forged between Indigenous Nations and the Government of Canada, we can help achieve Canada’s biodiversity and climate goals and strengthen Nationhood in the process.”
– Valérie Courtois, Director of Indigenous Leadership Initiative

“As Indigenous leaders in our communities, my colleagues and I are proud of the contribution we have made as partners with Environment and Climate Change Canada. The initiatives funded today serve as an expression of nationhood, jurisdiction and cultural responsibility to First Nations lands and waters. This Nation-based model of self-determination and reconciliation is premised on a shared understanding of responsibility, decision-making, connection and respect for Mother Earth. We look forward to continuing to build this partnership to realize our shared goal in strengthening the national First Nations Guardians Network.”
– Loretta Bayer, Co-chair of First Nations-Federal Pilot Joint Working Group on Guardians

“From coast to coast to coast, the conservation efforts of Indigenous Guardians are keeping our environment protected for future generations. My congratulations to the Deninu K’ue First Nation, and I look forward to seeing the great work that will be made possible with this investment.”
– Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories

Quick facts

  • This funding comes from the Tier 1 stream of the First Nations Guardians Pilot Program. The Indigenous Guardians Pilot is jointly implemented with First Nations, Inuit and Metis using an individual approach that respects and recognizes the unique perspectives, rights, responsibilities and needs of Indigenous peoples.

  • Indigenous Guardians are a key part of Canada’s Nature Legacy. The Indigenous Guardians Pilot has invested $20.7 million in over 80 community-based Guardians initiatives across the country, governed by distinction-based joint program management.

  • Indigenous Guardians play a vital role in creating and implementing land-use and marine-use plans and promoting intergenerational sharing of Indigenous Knowledge—helping to train the next generation of educators and nation builders.

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

  • Canada is committed to protecting 25 percent of lands and 25 percent of waters by 2025 and 30 percent of each by 2030.

  • To put these ambitious targets in perspective, it took Canada more than 150 years to achieve 10.5 percent protected and conserved area. The Nature Legacy’s 2025 targets seek to protect one and one half times as much, but in one twentieth the time.

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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