Ever wondered what it’s like to be a Mamalilikulla Guardian Watchman? Ever thought about why you might want to learn how to be one, and join us in our work? Darren Puglas, who is one of our Guardians and who graduates this March from Vancouver Island University as a certified Stewardship Technician, can answer both questions for you.
“I like being out in the territory with people, knowing I have the skills I need and I can help them if something grows wrong,” says Darren. “I loved the training I received. I grew up in the territory with my parents and my grandparents and now with all that knowledge I have gained I can give something back. Most of all I just love that I have been given this chance to care of our territory. Last year was my first year, this is my second and there are another twenty to go at least, hopefully!”
Guardian Watchmen, adds Darren, have to be prepared to work hard. “There’s no question!” he says with a smile. The reward is gaining knowledge and experience that will be valuable in many different ways and roles in life. Darren’s had to learn about environmental assessment and monitoring of things like fish and fish habitat, water, vegetation and wildlife, and even construction sites. He’s been trained in archaeological and culturally modified tree inventory and electro-fishing techniques.
Just as important as the stewardship knowledge are hard skills: things like marine engine maintenance and repair-if your boat breaks down in rough seas you had best know how to fix it quickly-and wilderness first aid. “I even do my own fishing when I can, so I know I will never be hungry out there,” he says.
This is all vital knowledge, says Chief Richard Sumner. He thinks that people wanting to work for the Mamalilikulla Nation as Guardian Watchmen will get the best of all worlds: “If you love the outdoors, this is for you. If you aren’t afraid of rolling up your sleeves and starting from the ground up to do the work, this is for you. If you want a job that makes you feel proud, and confident in your identity as a Mamalilikulla person, then working as a Guardian Watchman will give you that.
Most important of all, he says, is this: “This is about being part of the future of the Mamalilikulla Nation. Our Nation has a vision of being strong, self-sufficient, and sovereign. The Guardians are a vital part of that. They are the ones present on our lands and waters, and taking care of them. They are our ears and eyes out there. It’s a strong, proud role, it’s a great job, and it takes a special kind of person to step up to it-one who has the same vision of building a good future for the next generation of Mamalilikulla children by leaving them the legacy of a well-cared for territory.”