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Yukoner receives outstanding leadership award

Joshua Ladue was honoured in Ottawa for his work in protecting indigenous lands as a land guardian
Joshua Ladue received the Jarret Quock Award for Outstanding Leadership for his work as a land guardian in Ross River (Courtesy/Joshua Ladue)

Joshua Ladue, a land guardian from Ross River, has been recognized with the Jarret Quock Award for Outstanding Leadership.

Ladue, 26, received the award recently during a ceremony in Ottawa. The award is given each year to someone who has shown outstanding roles in leadership as a land guardian.

“It is extremely humbling and a huge honour to be recognized as a hardworking guardian who protects the land for our children tomorrow,” he said.

“I have a one-year-old son and it’s pretty important to me that he has the opportunity to grow in the land and learn his culture like I did growing up.”

Jarret Quock, who passed away in 2022, was a citizen from the Tahltan Nation and served as the first full-time wildlife guardian. He spearheaded the Tahltan central government’s wildlife department, which launched in 2016, and is remembered as a selfless and inspiring land guardian who worked to protect the land, wildlife management and promote Tahltan culture.

There were about 30 guardian programs five years ago. Currently, there are more than 120 First Nations guardian programs across the country caring for land and waters. The Indigenous land program protects the land, waters and other resources.

Ladue became a land guardian three years ago. He is currently the guardian coordinator for the Ross River Dena Council.

As land guardians, Ladue said he and his team work to take care of their lands and make sure that everything is being respected and done properly to ensure the next generation has the same opportunities like they do.

“As a land steward and as a First Nation citizen, we have inherited a duty and obligation to take care and protect our land for our next generation,” he said.

Ladue said some of their activities as guardians include testing drinking water where their elders get water from and issuing hunting permits to hunters in the area.

They also have an ongoing bird monitoring program. He explains that they hang little audio boxes in the area which capture the birds when they migrate back to the North and to identify the kinds of bird species coming to the area during the migration.

“We have also been repatriating our lands,” he said.

“We have been going to places that have significant cultural values around the area and to our land and have been building cabins for our people to stay during hunting.”

Another duty of the guardians, he explained, is to conduct game checks, daily patrols between the north and south canal, up to Frances Lake.

Ladue said one of the challenges land guardians face in their work is the backlash they receive from local hunters who don’t want to subscribe to their hunting permits. He said the hunters argue that they receive the territorial government’s permits and have no need for a second one.

“We live on unceded territory and have a duty to protect our land and manage predators,” he said.

By issuing their own permits, he said they just want to get the data to find out where the harvest is going on and if there needs to be less harvest in those areas.

“That’s just a bit of a challenge when we just want to do our job. The permit is also to make sure that things are being respected on our lands,” he said.

Ladue told the News the award will motivate him to keep strong and to stay on track in his work as a land guardian.

“It will keep me going and it’s extremely important to me and to my community that I have been acknowledged for the work that I’m doing,” he said.

“The motivation is to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Ladue said he would be passionate to support his son if he chooses to take after him and become a land guardian when he grows up.

“I would be extremely proud to see him become one as I am,” he said.

Contact Patrick Egwu at

Patrick Egwu

About the Author: Patrick Egwu

I’m one of the newest additions at Yukon News where I have been writing about a range of issues — politics, sports, health, environment and other developments in the territory.
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