Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna announces $5.7 million in early funding for the Indigenous Guardians program at the Institute for Ocean Sciences, Tuesday. (Kristyn Anthony/News staff)

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna announces $5.7 million in early funding for the Indigenous Guardians program at the Institute for Ocean Sciences, Tuesday. (Kristyn Anthony/News staff)

Feds kickstart Indigenous Guardians program with $5.7M in early funding

Part of $25M announcement from March to commit financial help for First Nations to remain stewards of their land

To further the action of reconciliation and ensure a diligent approach to the dangers of climate change, the federal government has pledged early funding for 28 projects under the Indigenous Guardians pilot program.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna announced $5.7 million for First Nations communities across the country, Tuesday at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney.

“[This] gives First Nations, Métis, and Inuit the support they need to be the best possible stewards of their traditional lands, waters and ice,” McKenna said.

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Different communities have different perspectives and different approaches, said McKenna who stressed it was “really important to me that we get the money to the communities.”

Of the 10 projects in B.C., three are located on Vancouver Island.

Chief David Walkem of the Cook’s Ferry Indian Band is joined by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna who announced early funding for the Indigenous Guardians pilot program. (Kristyn Anthony/News staff)

“We’ve been working for years to get our information from our elders, and work with governments and industry to try and get our values back on the land, get our people more involved,” said Chief David Walkem of the Cook’s Ferry Indian Band.

This program provides a really good opportunity to implement that on the ground, he added.

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Prior to Tuesday’s announcement of early funding for the Indigenous Guardians program, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna (left) participated in a roundtable discussion with Indigenous representatives like Eli Enns (right), a Nuu-chah-nulth political scientist at the University of Victoria. (Kristyn Anthony/News staff)

In March, the federal government announced $25 million in funding as part of Budget 2017, to fund Indigenous Guardian programs over the course of five years.

It is the first time the government has made a financial commitment to the Métis, First Nations and Inuit community-run programs.

“Reconciliation also requires reconciliation with the land,” McKenna said, pointing to one of the 94 calls to action included in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

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The overarching goal of the pilot program is to establish a national Indigenous Guardians network to help sustain the program long term.

It also supports some of the key goals of Canada’s Nature Legacy, ensuring healthier habitats for species at risk, advancing reconciliation and demonstrating global leadership to achieve 2020 conservation targets.

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