Indigenous Guardians protecting coastal lands and waters

A group of students sits in a longhouse

April 15, 2024 - 4:00pm

The partnership between Nanwakolas Council and Vancouver Island University has resulted in 16 more Indigenous Guardians graduating with formal stewardship technician qualifications.

*story reprinted with permission from the Nanwakolas Council website

On April 12, after a gruelling six months of intensive classroom and field studies, 16 students of the Nanwakolas Council and Vancouver Island University (VIU) Stewardship Technician Training Program (STTP) graduated with the skills they need as Indigenous Guardians to protect the fragile lands and waters of their territories. A ceremony was held to celebrate the graduates in the Kwanwatsi Gukdzi (the Wei Wai Kum Big House) in Campbell River, with proud families, colleagues and partners in attendance to witness their success. The 16 students are:

  • Payton Wilson Wells (Wei Wai Kum)
  • Samuel Henderson (Wei Wai Kum)
  • Cool Cliffe (Wei Wai Kum)
  • Riley Ross Nelson (We Wai Kai)
  • Telisa Puamau (We Wai Kai)
  • Marisa Baikie (We Wai Kai)
  • Anthony Seville (We Wai Kai)
  • Scott Assu (We Wai Kai)
  • Les Steele (We Wai Kai)
  • Caitlyn Puglas (Mamalilikulla)
  • Tashina James-Matilpi (Tlowitsis)
  • Edward Gladstone (Tlowitsis)
  • Calvin Charlton (Tlowitsis)
  • Rylan Wright (K’ómoks)
  • Matthew Everson (K’ómoks)
  • Che (Rocky) Mountain, Mamalilikulla

“The Nanwakolas member Nations are taking on increased responsibilities for environmental governance and management as we exercise our Rights and Title in the territories,” says Nanwakolas Council President Dallas Smith. “That means we need many more Guardians actively engaged in monitoring forestry harvesting, hunting, protection of cultural sites, gathering data on key species, rehabilitation of damaged habitat, assessing resource development proposals and ensuring compliance with land use plans and regulations. We need Guardian capacity to respond to crises like the sinking of barges and tugs carrying oil and other toxic pollutants, as happened last year in Chancellor Channel. Having the STTP in place to support that exponential increase in capacity benefits everyone on the coast. I am very proud of the students and extend them my congratulations on their achievement.”

“Vancouver Island University is immensely proud of our long-standing partnership with Nanwakolas Council to collaboratively deliver the STTP and related initiatives,” says VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Deborah Saucier. “The partnerships between VIU and Indigenous communities that support learners, co-create innovative programming, and deepen mutual understanding are core to VIU’s identity. We see ourselves as a university built by and for our community. It is beautiful to see these students graduating after all the hard work they have put into the STTP courses.”

Read the original article

Tags: Community Engagement | Indigenous | Student Success

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