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The Da’naxda’xw Guardians build their know-how and their network

Ha-ma-yas Training

2015 was a big year for Da’naxda’xw Guardians Harold Glendale and Stanley Beans. Both men were still feeling their way in their roles, and diffident about their work; getting these shy guys to talk about themselves and their achievements was akin to pulling teeth. But fast forward to 2016, and it’s like speaking to two different people. Both of them are eager to describe what they’ve been up to over the summer, and enthusiastic about what they’ve accomplished.

Talking the talk

Harold and Stanley will both graduate in March 2017 from Vancouver Island University’s Stewardship Technician Certificate program, set up by VIU in partnership with Nanwakolas Council to provide essential training in a range of skills, including everything from technical environmental monitoring to cultural knowledge to small engine maintenance.

Gaining proficiency in these important skills has been a boost to their sense of self-assurance, say both men. But the most valuable course in that respect, and one that’s given them a “huge amount of confidence,” has been compliance training. “I feel very capable of talking to the people we need to talk to now in any situation,” says Harold.

“We had to do practical scenarios, with people acting out as being resistant to dealing with us,” explains Stanley. As part of the training, he and Harold had to know what to do and practice dealing with different situations, including scanning for weapons people might be carrying: “You back away from those ones quickly and quietly,” says Stanley. “Having that experience, even just in scenarios, really builds your confidence to talk to people and deal with the real life situations,” he adds.

Fortunately, the two Guardians haven’t had to apply their newfound knowledge in any hostile situations yet. “We find that most people are very friendly and open to us having a conversation with them about what they are up to in the territory,” says Stanley. “It’s usually more about building relationships and educating people about the rules and the environment out here.”

Out on the water

With a newly-refitted work boat added to their toolkit, the two Guardians spent as much time out on the water applying the skills they have been acquiring to real-life situations. That included monitoring hunters and their catch in Knight Inlet, an all-too-speedy visit to the annual eulachon harvest to help prepare gleetna (eulachon grease), and attending the annual Guardians Gathering at New Vancouver in June, attended by stewardship professionals from other Ha-Ma-Yas Network First Nations members.

“It’s been really great to get to know the other First Nations we work with in our territory, as part of doing our training at VIU,” says Stanley. Harold adds: “We’ve made great new friends, we’ve been building a network of other First Nations and groups on the coast who do similar work together and we help each other. It’s been a lot of fun as well, getting together and learning from each other.”

Planning for 2017

“The winter is usually a bit quieter for us because of the weather,” says Harold,” but we like to get out on the water when we can all the same in case we encounter anyone out there who needs help.” The two Guardians will also be planning for the year ahead, which will include the construction of four small cabins on Knight Inlet. The cabins will provide a base for the Guardians which will enable them to stay for longer periods in the territory.

With two new junior Guardians coming on board, those cabins will be needed. Stanley and Harold—both now promoted to Senior Guardians—are expecting a busy season out on the water. They are looking forward to it: “I don’t live in our territory,” says Stanley, “so it feels really good to be out there working in it and taking care of it, to be looking after everything out there.” Harold agrees: “It’s my favourite place to be. I can’t wait to be out there again.”