Indigenous Guardians Pilot


Indigenous Guardians Funding

In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada announced $25 million over four years to support an Indigenous Guardians Pilot. This program  provides Indigenous Peoples with a greater opportunity to exercise responsibility in stewardship of their traditional lands, waters, and ice. The Pilot supports Indigenous rights and responsibilities in protecting and conserving ecosystems, developing and maintaining sustainable economies, and continuing the profound connections between the Canadian landscape and Indigenous culture.

In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada announced up to $100 million over five years (2021-2026) to support new and existing Indigenous Guardians initiatives and to support the development of Indigenous Guardians Networks for First Nations, Inuit and Métis through the Pilot’s distinctions-based governance structure.

Nature-Smart Climate Solutions Fund – Indigenous Partnerships Stream

The Nature-Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF) is a $631 million, ten-year fund to support projects that restore and enhance wetlands, peatlands, and grasslands to store and capture carbon.

Up to $36.9 million in funding has been allocated to support Indigenous communities using a distinctions-based approach with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, to deliver projects that build capacity and advance Indigenous-led efforts on natural climate solutions, using a blended approach that includes directed and application-based funding.

The Indigenous Guardians Pilot Secretariat is delivering funding for the Indigenous Partnerships stream of the Nature-Smart Climate Solutions Fund by working collaboratively with exisiting Indigenous Guardians governance structures.

The Secretariat will share additional information as it becomes available. We invite you to consult this webpage regularly for more updates.

Map of funded initiatives

See the Indigenous Guardians Pilot map for more information on the funded initiatives.

Governance structures for First Nations, Inuit and Métis

The Pilot is being implemented jointly with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis using a distinctions-based approach that respects and recognizes the unique perspectives, rights, responsibilities and needs of Indigenous Peoples.

Eligible organizations

Indigenous communities, Indigenous Nations, governments, and representative organizations are eligible for funding under the Pilot Program.

Eligible activities

Indigenous Guardians

The kinds of activities eligible for the Indigenous Guardians funding include, but are not limited to:

  • Gathering and application of Indigenous laws, teachings and knowledge;
  • Maintenance and support of Indigenous relationships with lands, waters, animals and plants;
  • Capacity building, outreach, education and training of Indigenous youth, tourists, and community members;
  • Emergency response;
  • Data collection and monitoring related to the use of lands, waters and other earthly gifts on traditional territories, including cultural sites;
  • Species and habitat identification, monitoring and protection;
  • Habitat stewardship for maintenance and improvement of ecosystem services;
  • Conservation, land use and land relationship planning; and
  • Enforcement and compliance support through observation, recording, and reporting.

Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund - Indigenous Partnerships Stream

Activities eligible for the Nature-Smart Climate Solutions funding include, but are not limited to:

Conservation activities:

  • Securing degraded ecosystems and subsequently undertaking restoration activities to increase both carbon sequestration and storage in those ecosystems.

Restoration activities:

  • Habitat restoration (inland, coastal, and peatlands) and management activities designed to capture carbon in plant life and soils and bring co-benefits to support traditional cultural practices (e.g. the harvest of traditional medicinal plants or foods).
  • Training in ecosystem restoration techniques designed to maximize both carbon sequestration and co-benefits.

Enhanced ecosystem management:

  • Ecosystem management for maintenance and improvement of ecosystem services, in order to increase GHG storage capacity and provide other ecological goods and services.
  • Actively optimizing ecosystems, such as modifying management practices and restoring disturbed ecosystems, to increase their GHG  storage capacity.
  • Avoiding the degradation of high GHG emissions capacity ecosystems or their loss and conversion to other land uses, for example draining wetlands and removing forests to make way for urban or industrial development.

Planning and capacity building:

  • Planning activities to support initiative design and implementation.
  • Activities to develop the capacity of recipients with regard to technical aspects of natural climate solutions approaches.
  • Surveys, inventories and monitoring of target ecosystems in order to promote enhanced management, restoration, and protection that can reduce GHG emissions.
  • Collection and gathering of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge.
  • Policy, program or tool development, modernization or realignment including standards or guidelines for effective program design, training or guidance for program participants, research, policy development, estimation of carbon mitigation potential of a project, best management land-use practices, conservation planning, outreach and education, etc. pertaining to natural climate solutions.

All recipients of NSCSF funding targeted to field, on-land activities (restoration, improved land management, conservation) will be expected to dedicate resources to gathering information including field data to support reporting on GHG emissions from the project.

Although the main goal of the NSCSF initiative is to reduce Canada’s net GHG emissions, NSCSF funded projects will also need to provide benefits for biodiversity and for human well-being. Therefore, co-benefits to biodiversity, climate change adaptation through enhanced climate resilience, and human well-being, including those pertaining to Indigenous lifeways and Traditional Knowledge, will be considered when assessing projects.

Application process

Indigenous Guardians Funding

An application process for First Nations Guardians Initiatives (Tiers 1, 2, and 3) in 2022-2023 will be open from Monday, November 22, 2021, until Monday, January 10, 2022 (23:59 PST):

  • Funding is available for one fiscal year (2022-2023) and must be spent by March 31, 2023.
  • The maximum allocation per project, for activities to be completed by March 31, 2023, is as follows:
    • Tier 1: $50,000/year
    • Tier 2: $175,000/year
    • Tier 3: $250,000/year
  • If you are an eligible organization and have not received the Application Package via email, please contact the Indigenous Guardians Pilot Secretariat at:

Nature-Smart Climate Solutions Fund – Indigenous Partnerships Steam

The details about application processes are still being developed using a distinctions-based approach. The Secretariat will share additional information as it becomes available. We invite you to consult this webpage regularly for more updates.

For more information

For more information, please contact the Indigenous Guardians Pilot Secretariat by email at


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