VANCOUVER—When flooding last year broke open a fish ladder that allowed spawning salmon to get upriver near Cache Creek, B.C., locals trained as “guardians” from the nearby First Nation responded to the disaster first. They’d been warning about a growing hole in the critical fisheries structure — which looks like a stairway covered in water — for years. When it tore open, they followed their training and jumped into action. Members of the Guardian Watchmen, an Indigenous-led monitoring group trained by the Coastal First Nations, patrol on the shores of Mussel Inlet, B.C., on Kitasoo/Xai’xais territory. The idea behind the movement is to maintain “eyes on the land.” Indigenous communities send teams out to monitor and respond to emergencies, ensure laws are followed and collect data on the local effects of climate change. (Supplied: Sandra Thomson/Coastal First Nations) “One of our group saw the hole escalate,” recalled Art Antoine, demonstrating the size of the breach by holding his arms out wide. A guardian watchman with Bonaparte First Nation, Antoine spoke to the Star wearing a collared forest-green shirt emblazoned with “Protector” on the back and “Territorial Patrol” patches on the arms. “You wouldn’t believe the power of the water,” […]

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