Wahkohtowin has had a Guardian program since 2020 and it continues to grow and expand taking on guardians with the aim of building lands and resource capacity directly in our communities. Every year all the Guardians across Canada gather in Ottawa to share knowledge, inspire each other and raise awareness of the work. This year our Guardian program Manager, Amberly Quakegesic attended.
..... 5 years ago, there were only 30 Guardian Programs across Canada. Today, there are over 120 Guardian programs across Turtle Island.....
Hundreds of Guardians gathered in Ottawa in the second week of May to attend the “First Nations Guardian Gathering” celebrating the growth and success of the Guardians movement! Wahkohtowin was fortunate enough to attend this gathering 5 years ago, where there were only 30 Guardian Programs across Canada. Today, there are over 120 Guardian programs across Turtle Island who are the eyes and ears on the ground and keeping our lands and waters healthy so they may be around for many generations to come. This gathering is an opportunity to learn about all the inspiring work going on and it’s a safe space for Guardians to meet and exchange knowledge between territories and programming. It’s also about building people’s bundles, so the workshops were designed to help everyone attending learn how to bring a Guardian program back to their community.
What makes Guardian programs so special is that every program has their own focus and priorities based on the needs and concerns of the First Nations peoples in that area. As a member of the Land Needs Guardians Storytellers cohort, I was invited to this event to participate in conducting interviews at the Guardians’ booth, as well as speaking on a couple of panels related to my experiences as a Guardian thus far. The first panel was with other storytellers in the cohort where we discussed the benefits of storytelling through an indigenous lens and ensuring that Guardian programs raise awareness about all the important work taking place. I also had the opportunity to share on a panel about my experiences building birch bark canoes. Lastly, I was invited to the closing panel with three other Guardians, to share our stories from coast to coast. Sharing our knowledge and teachings is so important and that’s what these gatherings are all about. They’re inspiring, empowering and open many doors for those who are lucky enough to attend. I am already looking forward to the next one!
Author: Amberly Quakegesic - Guardian Program Manager