The Indigenous Guardians Toolkit is a central repository for resources and experiences that empower Indigenous communities to manage ancestral lands according to traditional laws and values. Guardians are employed as the “eyes on the ground” to monitor ecological health, maintain cultural sites and protect sensitive areas and species. The online toolkit provides easy-to-access information, resources, stories and guidelines for building and implementing Guardian Programs.
With the goal of developing an online platform for Indigenous Guardians to learn, share and connect, we began by conducting a deep dive into the print content. The purpose was to better understand the content and how it would be used. We identified the underlying content structure and organized it into digestible sections. From there, we created a matrix of different user types and articulated their goals for the content. It soon became clear that each audience would use the toolkit in markedly different ways – we needed a toolkit that could be used in its entirety, and in parts. Working closely with the client, we created an experience-focused online platform where independent resources – stories, checklists, templates, quotes and more – were woven together into a living online environment that could grow as new knowledge was added.
The outcome is an online toolkit that can be downloaded as a whole, in chapters or by individual resources. By modularizing or breaking the content down into various steps, we optimized the toolkit for people viewing it on mobile devices and in low bandwidth areas. Flexible and accessible, users can quickly and easily browse the content without having to download the full resource to their device.
Beyond the technical delivery of the content, we also worked to create a unified theme for the toolkit that was loose and casual (in terms of style of illustration), but consistent, with repeatable elements so we could illustrate a wide range of topics.
The colour palette was a result of working with the Indigenous Guardians Toolkit team to develop a scheme appropriate for First Nations audience. The starting point for the colours are based on the medicine colour wheel (most often black / white / yellow and red). However, since different nations use colour differently (black is sometimes replaced with blue or green), we were careful to work with analogous colours to create a scheme without making reference to any specific style or geographic location. We also shifted the tone of certain colours for better readability on the web and in print. The toolkit icons are colour keyed with the goal of building a recognizable pattern throughout the toolkit based on content types such as stories, resources and links.
The resources were also designed with social shareability in mind. People can share direct links to specific resources that also link back to the entire toolkit. By setting up the toolkit in this way, Indigenous Guardians and other stakeholders can easily share content and connect online.
The toolkit has become a central resource. It now generates hundreds of daily unique visits consistently from both existing and new members of the community, from political funding bodies to guardians in the field.
From stories to quotes, the community is also adding new content to the toolkit on a regular basis. It is a rich, living document that continues to grow and empower Indigenous Guardians to monitor, maintain and protect our environment.