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The First Nations National Guardians Network (NGN) is a national, non-profit that aims to support First Nations-led stewardship and sovereignty through First Nations Guardian initiatives. We do this by providing consistent funding, networking, training, and education opportunities that support the profession of Guardians.

The NGN is the first First Nations-led national stewardship network in the world. It is designed and managed by First Nations individuals.

Together, we are focused on getting more Guardians on the ground. We are creating an easier, more streamlined process for accessing Guardians funds. We are providing an Indigenous-led approach to working with Crown governments and other funding partners.

The Network Council governs the organization and sets its goals and objectives. The NGN’s vision is for every First Nation in what is now called Canada to have the resources necessary to uphold their inherent stewardship responsibilities to the land and waters in their territories. Our mission is to support and connect First Nations Guardians.

NGN will help create opportunities that are hard for a single Guardians initiative or First Nation to develop on its own. For instance, it will streamline funding applications and get resources to Guardians faster.

It will offer training on topics like data management—something all Guardians initiatives have to consider. And it will work to establish the profession of Guardians and accreditation. These opportunities are easier to achieve when we come together as a network.

The NGN supports First Nations, governments, regional guardians’ networks, and/or representative organizations to exercise their rights and responsibilities to the land, waters, and ice of their traditional territories. It does this by providing funding for First Nations-led, on-the-ground, community-based stewardship initiatives and networks through two programs:

Both initiatives incorporate NGN’s core values of sharing, respect, and reciprocity to support First Nations exercising their cultural responsibilities through on-the-ground stewardship initiatives on their traditional lands, waters, and ice as they continue to be the “eyes and ears on the ground” of their home Nations.

Please visit the Guardians Supports page to learn more about each of these two funds.

The 2024 funding provided by NGN flows from the Government of Canada.

Here’s the background: Through the efforts of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative (ILI), an initial pilot investment of $25M was committed in the 2017 federal budget for Indigenous Guardians, of which $9.5M was dedicated to First Nations. In 2018-19, $1.9M of the $9.5M was distributed by the Government of Canada to make early investments in a number of First Nations Guardians initiatives. The remaining $7.6M of the original $9.5M was distributed to fund First Nations Guardian initiatives (between 2019-2022).

The Federal Budget 2021 made available up to $100M in addition funding for Indigenous Guardians, of which approximately $67M was dedicated to First Nations. The JWG delivered the $13M available for First Nations Guardians initiatives in 2022-2023 and is currently working to distribute funds for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The NGN will take over the distribution and management of these funds from April 2024 to March 2026.

The NGN does not redirect money designated for Guardians’ work. Instead, it’s designed to ensure more money flows faster to Guardians and provide collective opportunities for Guardians. In December 2022, the Government of Canada committed federal funding for the operation of the NGN.

This includes designing an Indigenous-led process for getting funding out to Guardians. This approach will be leaner and more efficient than the model of Canada delivering a program to First Nations, which often requires a sizable portion of funds being directed to government management.

The Indigenous Leadership Initiative (ILI), along with partners, worked to build what became the foundation of the NGN. Through the leadership of the ILI, NGN represents a fundamental shift in how Indigenous Nations and Canada work together. Rather than having the Crown government design and deliver a program to Indigenous Peoples, the NGN is Indigenous-led with both Indigenous and Crown representatives to collaborate as partners.

ILI and NGN continue to share knowledge with one another, especially in this transition year as the NGN becomes operational.

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