For thousands of years, the Indigenous peoples of what we now call British Columbia have protected and managed the lands and waters of their territories. In recent years, many Indigenous nations have continued to uphold their governance responsibilities and this long tradition of stewardship through the creation of “Guardian Watchmen” programs. During a time of unprecedented environmental disruption, the wisdom and knowledge contained within these traditions has assumed an even greater importance.
Guardian Watchmen are often referred to as the “eyes and ears” of the land and sea. Guardians are often hired by their nations to act as protectors and stewards of the lands and waters they and their ancestors have inhabited for millennia. Guardian Watchmen can be found all along the central and north coast of British Columbia, as well as elsewhere in Canada, both on land and on water.
West Coast recognizes the crucial role that Indigenous Guardians play in gathering knowledge, monitoring impacts on the marine environment, enforcing Indigenous laws, and interacting with other government agencies responsible for marine and coastal management. We support the further development of these programs – including increased funding – across Canada.
- Guardian Watchmen: Upholding Indigenous Laws to Protect Land and Sea
- Coastal Guardian Watchmen Support (Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative)
- Eyes and Ears on the Land and Sea (video)
Photo credit: Georgia Lloyd-Smith