A network of Nanwakolas member First Nations’ Guardian programs, fulfilling the member First Nations’ ancestral rights and responsibilities to take care of their lands, waters, wildlife and food sources for future generations
Who We Are
The Nanwakolas member First Nations are all part of the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network, established by Nanwakolas Council to support each of the member Nation’s individual Guardian programs. In addition to fulfilling their stewardship responsibilities, the member Nations’ Guardians help protect the cultural and socio-economic values associated with Aweenak’ola.
The Role of the Guardians
Through the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network, a coordinated and consistent approach is applied to the First Nations’ independent stewardship responsibilities within their traditional areas.
That approach is given life through the role of the First Nations’ Guardians. The Guardians are the “eyes and ears” out on the land and waters of the traditional areas. Ha-ma-yas itself means: “the place we go to gather food.” In taking care of the land and waters, the Guardians are also protecting the sources of physical and cultural sustenance for the member First Nations and for future generations.
Read more about the establishment of the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network
The Work of the Guardians
The Guardians work in the traditional areas of the member First Nations year-round, observing the lands, waters, and wildlife, and gathering information about activities occurring in the territories. Working with federal and provincial governments, the Guardians also keep an eye on companies operating in the territories, and the public, to make sure that everyone is complying with environmental laws. Currently, the Guardians’ authority is passed on by the Chiefs and Councils of each of the Nanwakolas Nations.
The Nanwakolas Council provides expertise, advice, coordination, logistics and technical support through the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network to the Nations’ individual Guardian programs. This support enables the Guardians to build their capability and skills, so they can undertake their vital work. The Guardians share their knowledge and experience with others in the Network and help people who are training to become future Guardians.
Skills and Knowledge
The Guardians are highly trained women and men who have many skills and qualifications, including everything from boat safety to regulatory and environmental issues.
The Nanwakolas Council works closely with partner institutions such as Vancouver Island University, which provides post-secondary courses, certification and qualifications in subjects like water safety and boat operation; environmental surveying and data collection and analysis; dealing with the public; environmental laws and reporting procedures; environmental monitoring; tourism, and communication. Knowledge of traditional culture, values and laws is fundamental to all of these topics and is incorporated into each of the courses.
Many of the Guardians have completed formal stewardship training programs or are in the process of doing so. Some Guardians also have university qualifications in important and relevant subjects like biology, forestry and archaeology which they are able to apply to their work in the field.
The member First Nations also work collaboratively with other First Nations up and down the coast to protect the territories, especially the Coastal Stewardship Network of the Coastal First Nations.