Four NWT-based programs have received funding in the second year of the Indigenous Guardians pilot program.
The program launched in 2018 with the intent of funding Indigenous-led conservation efforts.
This year, 22 projects are receiving a share of $6.4 million in funding, including projects proposed by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, and the Sahtú Dene Council.
Over the next two years, the remaining $12.9 million will be dispersed among new initiatives.
The federal government said it is working with First Nations conservation leaders and knowledge keepers “as they honour and fulfill their cultural responsibilities to the land” and intends the funding to help with “advancing reconciliation.”
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation’s plan for the funding, known as the Munaqsi Community Based Monitoring project, will use traditional knowledge to understand harvesting patterns. Federal money will support Inuvialuit as they monitor and collect data year-round on hazards.
Kurt Ruben, leading the project, said it would help six communities to prepare for climate change.
He told Cabin Radio the project will consist of three phases: training the monitors, sending the monitors back to their communities to collect the data and, finally, having the monitors report to community members and other organizations.
Ruben is excited for the eventual results. “I think it’s probably one of the best projects I am going to be part of in my lifetime,” he said.
“For me, it’s just preparation and awareness for the community members who are out harvesting. They have somebody out there ensuring that people who are going hunting and travelling to their traditional sites are comfortable and are aware that it’s safe to travel.”
Near Yellowknife, the Yellowknives Dene Guardians project will help the First Nation ensure human activity on its land is sustainable. The funding will also help the First Nation “preserve the social, cultural, and ecological relationships they have maintained with their environment for millennia.”
In the south of the NWT, the Kátł’odeeche First Nation’s Nahendeh Kehotsendi project will focus on monitoring the land using traditional knowledge and today’s technology. The data gathered will form a knowledge base the First Nation can use as a guide when making land management decisions.
In Délı̨ne, the Sahtú Dene Council’s Nę K’ǝ́dı́Ke – Keepers of the Land network – focuses on “health, economic development, expanded employment, food security, local and regional governance, reconciliation, and cultural and spiritual integrity.”