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(3,732 posts)
Thu May 30, 2024, 11:32 AM May 30

the First Nations guardians protecting Canada's pristine shores


‘It was like the wild west’: meet the First Nations guardians protecting Canada’s pristine shores

Charles Saunders shows off a Dungeness crab, caught as part of a population survey by the Nuxalk Guardian Watchmen. Photograph: All pictures by Jimmy Thomson/The Guardian

From crab monitoring and bear patrols to rescue operations, the watchmen are the official eyes and ears of indigenous communities

by Jimmy Thomson in Bella Coola, British Columbia
Thu 30 May 2024

It’s Delaney Mack’s first time pulling crab traps and she is unsure what to do. Mack, the newest member of the Nuxalk Guardian Watchmen, has had months of training for the multifaceted job, which might on any given day include rescuing a kayaker, taking ocean samples or monitoring a logging operation. But winching crabs up 100ft from the sea floor was not in the manual.

Soon, however, the four-person operation is humming along. The crab survey is a vital part of their work as guardians of this Indigenous territory in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It was started more than 15 years ago in response to heavy commercial crab fishing in an area where the federal government had done little independent monitoring to determine if a fishery was sustainable.

It is the quintessential guardian assignment: remote monitoring work of immediate importance to a small community, far beyond the gaze of administrators at understaffed government agencies.

The watchmen are the eyes and ears of their First Nation community on the lands and water of their territory, which spans about 18,000 sq km (7,000 sq miles, roughly the size of Kuwait) on the central coast of British Columbia around the town of Bella Coola, 430 mountainous kilometres northwest of Vancouver. For Mack, being chosen to join the guardians was a godsend. “I had no idea what I was going to do with my life,” she says. Indigenous guardianship goes back millennia, but in recent decades has become more formally enshrined and recognised. Today there are about 1,000 guardians in 200 Indigenous communities across Canada, according to the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, a national guardian advocacy group.


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the First Nations guardians protecting Canada's pristine shores (Original Post) cbabe May 30 OP
I applaud them for all the valuable work they do. Quick question though flying_wahini May 30 #1
From the article: cbabe May 30 #2


(7,051 posts)
1. I applaud them for all the valuable work they do. Quick question though
Thu May 30, 2024, 12:11 PM
May 30

How do they make a living doing this? Is some philanthropist helping them?
Just curious.


(3,732 posts)
2. From the article:
Thu May 30, 2024, 12:43 PM
May 30

Neasloss started the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Guardian Watchmen programme in 2010, funded by a combination of private and government money. The programme has grown to the point where it has five boats on the water doing everything from resource stewardship to coastguard operations – and Neasloss credits it with bringing illegal activities down to near zero.

Even in the pilot project here on the coast, guardians have yet to issue a single ticket. That’s fine with Neasloss. “I hope our guys never write a ticket, you know, and we focus a lot on the education piece.” It’s about getting results, not racking up fines, he says.


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