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Media Release

Ottawa: Jan 29, 2020

The Land Needs Guardians is a new campaign designed to celebrate and support Indigenous Guardians programs and Indigenous stewardship.

The campaign, launching on Wednesday, is part of a larger movement. Across the country, Indigenous Nations are caring for lands, waters and resources. They are delivering proven benefits for their communities and for all Canadians. And their conservation leadership is gaining momentum.

The Land Needs Guardians campaign will build on the enthusiasm and strength growing up from the land. It will generate broad support for and long-term investments in Indigenous Guardians programs and Indigenous stewardship.

“We need this movement now more than ever,” said Ethel Blondin-Andrew, former Member of Parliament and advisor to the Land Needs Guardians campaign. “Climate change and biodiversity loss threaten us all. Indigenous Peoples are stepping up to the challenge. We have the expertise to help our Nations and Canada respond to environmental crises.”

About 60 Indigenous Guardians programs care for traditional territories across the country. Guardians are trained experts who restore wildlife, test water quality and monitor development projects. Indigenous Guardians programs also help manage and steward Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), which are making a significant contribution to meeting Canada’s international biodiversity commitments.

Indigenous Guardians programs have been shown to transform lives and strengthen communities. They offer good, local jobs connected to Indigenous culture. They instill a sense of pride and possibility in Indigenous youth. And they help train the next generation of leaders.

Guardians programs also help Indigenous Nations honour the cultural responsibility to the land. The 2019 United Nations assessment of global biodiversity found that lands managed by Indigenous Peoples tend to be healthier than other areas. Guardians ensure traditional territories remain vibrant into the future.

The IPCAs that some guardians programs manage in the boreal region—including Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area/National Wildlife Area and Thaidene Nëné—contain large intact landscapes. These boreal lands store huge amounts of carbon and sustain an abundance of animals and plants. Expanding and supporting this stewardship will make Canada a global leader in conservation.

“Indigenous Guardians across the country are reaching out to Canadians saying: the work we do is good for our communities, it’s good for the land, and it’s good for all of us,” said Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative which has spearheaded the campaign. “We think the success of Indigenous stewardship is something everyone can celebrate.”

Support for Indigenous stewardship is already starting to unify Canadians. Almost eight in ten said they favour long-term federal support for Indigenous Guardians programs, according to an Abacus Data survey from 2019.

The Land Needs Guardians campaign launch will kick off on Wednesday with a reception at the National Arts Centre featuring prominent leaders and Indigenous Guardians from across the country. Together they will celebrate Indigenous Guardians programs and the opportunity to expand their success across Canada.

Watch the campaign launch video here:

Media Contact
Sean Durkan: (613-851-2151)

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