‘It was like the wild west’: meet the First Nations guardians protecting Canada’s pristine shores

‘It was like the wild west’: meet the First Nations guardians protecting Canada’s pristine shores

From crab monitoring and bear patrols to rescue operations, the watchmen are the official eyes and ears of indigenous communities

It’s Delaney Mack’s first time pulling crab traps and she is unsure what to do. Mack, the newest member of the Nuxalk Guardian Watchmen, has had months of training for the multifaceted job, which might on any given day include rescuing a kayaker, taking ocean samples or monitoring a logging operation. But winching crabs up 100ft from the sea floor was not in the manual.

Soon, however, the four-person operation is humming along. The crab survey is a vital part of their work as guardians of this Indigenous territory in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It was started more than 15 years ago in response to heavy commercial crab fishing in an area where the federal government had done little independent monitoring to determine if a fishery was sustainable.

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