The K’ómoks First Nation is located in the Comox Valley on eastern Vancouver Island of British Columbia. With a current population of 300 members, the traditional territory of the K’ómoks extends 200 kilometres from the Salmon River in the north to the Englishman River in the south. This region contains several significant watersheds and is known by First Nations as the “land of plenty.” The marine environment is also of great importance and the Comox Estuary and Puntledge River have been a vital focal point for K’ómoks people since time immemorial.
The Comox Valley in the 21st century is highly urbanized and developed. Over-fishing, inappropriate forestry practices and environmental degradation are key concerns for the K’ómoks First Nation. Accordingly, a key feature of the K’ómoks Guardian Watchmen Program is public education. The K’ómoks First Nation is proactive in working with partners through the Guardian Watchman Program to protect the region’s natural resources from further degradation and to maintain and enhance the ecological health of the territory.
Through the Guardian Watchmen Program, K’ómoks First Nation is applying its traditional decision-making approach to protecting the lands and waters. Current activities of the Guardians include environmental monitoring and research, wildlife and traditional plant inventories, cultural protection and community outreach. Specific projects have included eel grass mapping, salmon hatchery work, butterfly research, medicinal plants inventory, cultural site monitoring, shellfish and crustacean sampling, and poaching patrols.