Coastal First Nations is a unique alliance of First Nations from the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. They include the Council of the Haida Nation, Skidegate, Old Masset, Metlakatla, Gitxaala, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Kitasoo Xai’Xais and Wuikinuxv First Nations.
The Great Bear Rainforest, made up of coastal mountains, lush valleys and interlocking waterways, forms the largest and most intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world. Influenced by the ocean and abundant rainfall, the region supports some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. For Indigenous people who live here, protecting these coastal ecosystems is a life-long responsibility, just as it was for our ancestors before us.
CFN-GBI operates under the direction of a Board of Directors with one representative from each of the members of Coastal First Nations.
CFN-GBI promotes community self-sufficiency and sustainable economic development for member Nations of the alliance. Our communities are working together to build a strong, conservation-based economy that recognizes our Title and Rights and protects our culture and ecosystems. See the CFN Declaration to learn more.
ABOUT THE COASTAL STEWARDSHIP NETWORK
The members of the Coastal Stewardship Network include current stewardship office employees as well as community members directly involved in the Coastal Stewardship Network (CSN) programming (e.g. Elders, youth, Stewardship Technician Training Program students). Members of the CSN (the Network) participate in activities on behalf of their Nation’s stewardship office.
In 2005, a meeting in Port Hardy of members of these Guardian-style programs from the Coast resulted in the creation of the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network. The Network was supported by the Sierra Club, Qqs Projects Society, and CFN-GBI. Shortly thereafter, the original Guardian Watchmen Vision was created and in 2009 the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network became a program of CFN-GBI. This original vision continues to guide Guardian Watchmen today.
The CSN is administered and managed as a program by CFN-GBI, mandated by the GBI Board of Directors, and its operations are carried out by a team of contractors, the “CSN Team”.
The CSN team serves the needs of stewardship offices, and as such, is guided by the Coastal First Nations Stewardship Directors Committee (SDC). The team works closely with the SDC, the CFN-GBI Board, and other CFN-GBI program managers and contractors to identify and provide programming needs.
To ensure that CSN initiatives are successful and aligned with the needs of Stewardship Offices, the CSN Team brings technical implementation questions to the CSN Technical Advisory Committee (CTAC). The general role of the CTAC is to provide input and advise the CSN Team on technical questions to achieve more effective implementation of stewardship capacity building and network initiatives that have been supported by the SDC.
ABOUT THE COASTAL GUARDIAN WATCHMEN
Coastal people have carried forward the work of their ancestors for thousands of generations to steward, manage and respect their lands and waters through the guidance and implementation of their laws. As such, Coastal Guardian Watchmen are borne out of this inherent right and responsibility to continue the work of their ancestors in protecting and managing their territories.
Modern Guardian-style monitoring systems first formed during the early 1990s on Canada’s west coast, when the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ ‘Aboriginal Fishery Strategy Program’ first funded First Nations fisheries monitors and/or Aboriginal Fisheries Guardians. At this time, there was not a lot of communication or information-sharing between Coastal First Nations communities around the development and implementation of their programs. The Aboriginal Fishery Strategy Program continues through today, however the scope of many Guardian Watchmen initiatives has broadened to support the diverse work of their stewardship offices.
Funding for the Guardian Watchmen currently comes from a variety of sources, including federal and provincial governments, private and public grants, private foundations and non-profit organizations, and own-source revenue, including resource revenues, carbon credit sales and economic development initiatives. (CSN funding comes from the same kinds of sources).
A good resource to start exploring is the Indigenous Guardians Toolkit. The Toolkit was sparked by Indigenous Guardians who were looking for easy-to-access information about building and implementing Guardian programs and wanted to learn from the experience of others. Recognizing that every Indigenous Guardian program is unique, the information you will find throughout the Toolkit is intended to be used, modified, copied, printed, downloaded, shared and added to.
Guardians monitor, manage, and steward their lands and waters; they are “boots-on-the-ground” and act as the “eyes and ears” of the territory.
- Territory Patrols – communicating Indigenous Laws & Protocols, observe, record, report infractions, monitor vessel activity, fisheries monitoring, prawn and crab trap surveys, monitoring cultural sites, forestry tenures and archaeology sites.
- Ecological Monitoring & Research – marine and terrestrial monitoring and research, salmon hatchery operations and salmon enumeration, invasive species management, habitat restoration.
- Emergency Response/Public Safety – Search and Rescue, whale disentanglement, spill response, COVID-19 checkpoints, community bear patrols.
- Community Engagement and Support – conservation education and outreach, food harvesting and distribution, cabin building, youth programs and camps.
For more details, see the Valuing Coastal Guardian Watchmen Programs: A Business Case and Coastal First Nations Guardian Strategic Plan.
Coastal stewardship staff are committed to improving and updating their skills and experience, which is why training and professional development are often a significant focus of their annual work plans.
The Coastal Stewardship Network supports these efforts by developing and delivering custom training programs to stewardship staff, and by facilitating interactions between staff, Elders and other knowledge keepers in coastal communities, building capacity for the next generation in stewardship leadership. The Coastal Stewardship Network is dedicated to offering training and professional development to all CFN-GBI member nations.
A collaborative program with Vancouver Island University (VIU), the Stewardship Technicians Training Program (STTP) provides applied stewardship training for First Nations throughout BC’s Central and North Coast and Haida Gwaii.
Drawing upon the skills and knowledge of local community members, the program offers regionally relevant professional development opportunities for First Nations communities, and the tangible skills required to work in the growing field of resource stewardship.
STTP supports those interested in or already working as Coastal Guardian Watchmen, fisheries technicians, heritage surveyors, environmental monitors and other resource management field positions. Instructors with extensive field knowledge teach in the classroom and the field, and our Training Coordinators are present throughout the program to provide additional support for students.
STTP is not currently accepting applications, but please check our website https://coastalfirstnations.ca/our-environment/programs/training-and-professional-development for updates and new course offerings. This program is not open to the public and only delivered by Coastal First Nations for our member nations.
The Stewardship Technicians Training Program is a collaboration between Coastal First Nations and Vancouver Island University (VIU). For more information about courses offered by VIU, please contact the Office of Indigenous Education and Engagement at VIU: Indigenous@viu.ca.
For information about the key elements of initial Guardian training, visit the Indigenous Guardians Toolkit skills page.