Guardians program essential to reconciliation, conservation

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 12:21am


Image Caption

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna (left) in Banff: “celebrating the return of the bison,” she tweets. (Photo:

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) will be one way Canada meets its international goal of conserving 17 per cent of its land by 2020.

McKenna made the statement on March 10, at a parks conference in Banff.

“We will move forward in our commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, including the development of Indigenous protected areas and looking at how we can expand the guardians programs,” she said.

The Guardian program uses Indigenous people to monitor and protect parks, and as visitor guides. There are 30 such programs operational in Canada.

IPAs are regions identified for conservation by local First Nations and areas included in self-government agreements or land claims. They would also be managed and monitored by the bands. Legislation would provide the land with some form of legal protection.

First Nations delegates at the conference said such moves could further reconciliation, as well as provide jobs and strengthen Indigenous culture.

“Our national parks must be respectful of traditional knowledge, especially as we strive towards a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples and continue to work together in a manner based on the recognition of rights, respect and co-operation,” said McKenna.