Guardian Watchmen Programs Overview

Find out more about local Guardian Watchmen program activities using the interactive map

Who are Guardian Watchmen?

Guardian Watchmen are all the people who monitor and protect the lands and waters on their territory to ensure a vibrant future for generations to come. These men and women carry forward the work of their ancestors to manage and respect their natural and cultural resources through traditional laws. Guardian Watchmen may have titles such as resource technicians, fisheries guardians, park rangers and community watchmen.

What do Guardian Watchmen do?

Guardian Watchmen monitor the health of important food, social and ceremonial species and the impacts of various resource uses throughout their territory. They work in forestry, fisheries, and parks and contribute to the successful implementation of land and marine use plans and other sustainable resource management initiatives.

Does every community have a Guardian Watchmen program?

Every community has dedicated people who are committed to the stewardship of their territory.  Some communities have fisheries staff who play an important role as Guardian Watchmen, other communities have staff who are responsible for monitoring activities in conservancies and working with visitors to the territory.  Each Nation has a unique approach to monitoring and stewarding their respective territory.  All Nations are interested in empowering and strengthening their Guardian Watchmen and working with neighbouring Nations to ensure a united and collective presence on the coast.

Why are Guardian Watchmen important?

As the original stewards of their territories, First Nations are responsible for governing and managing their lands and waters. First Nations have the authority and responsibility under traditional laws to protect important wildlife species, food sources, and significant cultural resources. With government cut-backs and increasing pressures on coastal resources, there has never been a more important time to strengthen Guardian Watchmen programs.  We count on Guardian Watchmen to make sure the Coast is managed responsibly.

What is the vision for Guardian Watchmen programs?

The Network supports local Guardian Watchmen programs to achieve their collective vision of ensuring a vibrant future for generations to come:  

As First Nations we govern our ancestral traditional territories and safeguard the health of our ecosystems.  We are the Guardians and Watchmen of our territories.  We are men and women carrying forward the work of our ancestors to manage and respect our lands and waters through our traditional laws to ensure a vibrant future for generations to come.  We work with our neighbouring Nations to create a united and collective presence within our territories.  From the Central Coast to the North Coast and Haida Gwaii, we are working together to monitor, protect and restore the cultural and natural resources in our territories.

As the Guardian and Watchmen of our ancestral traditional territories we will steward our marine and terrestrial natural and cultural resources to ensure that they are sustainably managed. To this effect:

  • We will gather data on the ecological health and wellbeing of our ancestral traditional territories;
  • We will compile and share data that we gather in order to inform decision-making in our ancestral traditional territories;
  • We will have the authority to carry out compliance and enforcement;
  • We will have a strong presence throughout our territories so that resource users regularly encounter and interact with us;  
  • We will have access to secure funding to support ongoing year-round Guardian/Watchmen programs in our communities;
  • We will play an active role in community outreach and education regarding the protection of our cultural and natural resources; and
  • We will work with the federal and provincial government (through management agreements that respect the title and rights of First Nations) to ensure coordinated and robust monitoring and enforcement throughout our territories.

We derive our authority and jurisdiction from our traditional laws to manage and safeguard the lands and waters of our territories for the health of future generations.