As the federal government crafts its COVID-19 economic recovery plan, Indigenous leaders argue investments in guardian programs can create thousands of jobs, while protecting the land and healing communities Indigenous guardians have been on the front lines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities: they’ve been monitoring who is entering their communities , delivering groceries and firewood to Elders and carrying on field research when outside scientists couldn’t travel. Now, as the country enters its recovery, some are calling for guardians — who monitor the land and water — to play an even bigger role. “We know that recovery in this country is going to be oriented toward maintaining and hopefully creating jobs,” says Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative . “Well, in many of our Indigenous communities, guardians are major employers.” “We don’t have a GM plant in Łutsel Kʼe — but we have guardians.” Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve in Łutsel Kʼe , N.W.T., has generated nine or 10 full-time and seasonal jobs for guardians. For a community of 300 people, that’s a significant input — the equivalent adding tens of thousands of jobs in a city the size of Metro Vancouver. […]

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