Government of Canada provides more than $2.4M to establish Innu Guardian Programs at Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park and Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
New programs will ensure stewardship of lands, waters, and ice based on Indigenous values and cultures
July 18, 2023 Gatineau, Quebec Parks Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples based on recognition, respect, co-operation, and partnership. The recognition of the important role Indigenous peoples play in the protection, conservation, and stewardship of lands, waters, and ice based on their cultures and their knowledge is central to the management of Parks Canada administered places.
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced more than $2.4 million over three years to establish two new Innu Guardian Programs in Quebec; $1.3 million for the program at Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, and $1.1 million for the program at Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve.
These new programs will be in addition to the Wolastokuk Guardians of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation at Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, the Haida Gwaii Watchmen at Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site in British Columbia, and the Guardians of the Nattilik Heritage Society at the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site in Nunavut.
These Innu Guardian Programs were developed by the local Indigenous communities of Essipit and Ekuanitshit, in collaboration with Parks Canada, to reflect the unique realities of the place. They aim to restore and maintain the privileged ties that the Innu of these communities have maintained with the lands, waters, and ice for millennia, strengthen their role as stewards and ensure the transfer of knowledge between generations.
Parks Canada is committed to ensuring that the system of national heritage places recognizes and honours the historical and contemporary contributions of Indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures, and their special attachment to traditional lands, waters, and ice.
“The establishment of new Indigenous Guardian Programs across the country is the next step in ensuring that Parks Canada administered places truly reflect the history, cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples who have cared for the lands, waters, and ice for millennia. I thank the Essipit Innu First Nation Council and the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit for their dedication and participation in the development of these new programs. These programs will allow their communities to reconnect with their traditional territory and participate in the transfer of Innu knowledge between generations in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park and the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“Today's announcement is certainly another concrete step by the Government of Canada in recognizing our inherent right to self-determination over Nitassinan. We are very pleased to continue our collaboration with Parks Canada, and to begin this new chapter with them to promote our culture and heritage with the goal of conservation and reconciliation.”
Chief of the Essipit Innu First Nation
“Our right to self-determination must be recognized and we assume it as the Innu of Ekuanitshit and the Guardian Program is the proof: we were, are, and will be the holders of the protection of Nitassinan, more specifically, the archipelago of the Mingan Islands.”
Chief of the Ekuanitshit Innu First Nation
Each Indigenous Guardian Initiative at Parks Canada administered places is co-developed with Indigenous partners. They then lead the initiative with the support and contribution of Parks Canada. These initiatives help maintain and revitalize their connections to the lands, waters, and ice that support the knowledge, law and governance systems that underpin Indigenous stewardship practices.
Indigenous guardians contribute to the mandate of the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park and the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve by supporting ecosystem conservation and protection objectives and raising awareness of the roles and responsibilities of Indigenous peoples in protecting natural and cultural heritage.
Parks Canada received up to $61.7 million from Budget 2021 for Indigenous Guardian Programs at Parks Canada administered places. As part of this new initiative, Parks Canada is working with Indigenous partners to enhance existing programs and aims to co-create between 30 and 35 new Indigenous Guardian Programs at Parks Canada administered places by 2025-2026.
Parks Canada is currently working with Indigenous partners to determine the location of the new Guardian Programs by 2026. Preliminary discussions are also taking place with the Indigenous Leadership Initiative regarding collaborative support mechanisms for communities under the Guardian Program administered by Parks Canada.
Parks Canada and Indigenous peoples work together to develop interpretive materials and activities at national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas to foster a better understanding of Indigenous perspectives, cultures, and traditions.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
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