Indigenous Leadership Initiative - National Indigenous Guardians Network (2017-2018)

The Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research is working with Indigenous Leadership Initiative (ILI) to support outreach and communications around the emerging National Indigenous Guardians Network and ILI priorities (i.e. Indigenous Guardians Program, community land-use and resource planning and governance), as well as to assess priority alignment for Yukon First Nations communities. The following background has been shared on behalf of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative advisory group. 


Indigenous communities across Canada are insisting on the recognition and expansion of Indigenous-led conservation and sustainable development efforts. Many First Nations are exercising their rights and responsibilities over traditional lands and believe this work is central to nation building. In 2013, a group of Indigenous leaders came together to nurture and help advance these efforts; they launched an informal organization, with support of Pew Charitable Trusts, the Hewlett Foundation, the Moore Foundation and Ducks Unlimited.

ILI's Mission:

The Indigenous Leadership Initiative is dedicated to facilitating the strengthening of Indigenous nationhood for the fulfillment of the Indigenous cultural responsibility to our lands, the emergence of new generations of Indigenous leaders, and helping communities develop the skills and capacity that they will need as they continue to become fully respected and equally treated partners in Canada’s system of governance and its economic and social growth.

Indigenous Guardians:

The main focus of the ILI’s work to date has been to advance the creation of a National Indigenous Guardians Network. In fulfillment of its mission, ILI also works in the related areas of Land Use Planning, Governance and Resource Planning.

ILI at Work:

ILI has been calling for a federally funded Indigenous Guardians initiative for several years. The Indigenous-led National Indigenous Guardians Network was created and has generated broad support, including from the Assembly of First Nations, which passed a resolution in 2015 calling for a national Guardians program. ILI also developed a pilot training project for Guardian leaders, focused on core skills Guardians need to conduct land use planning and other management projects (with Dechinta Bush University). 

National Indigenous Guardians Network:

  • To support Indigenous assertions of jurisdiction and the fulfillment of the common Indigenous responsibility to our respective territories: lands, waters and air.
  • Encouraging cooperation between Indigenous Peoples and the Crown to develop a shared ethic for responsible stewardship as a key driver of true reconciliation.
  • Supporting the design and development of the Guardians Network, to supporting the consultation process, and to working with Indigenous Nations in an advisory and facilitative role, particularly at the regional level. 

For more information about ILI, please visit: or email Norma Kassi at