2. Gathering Knowledge

We created new community-based monitoring programs that can collect consistent data on condition and stressor indicators for priority values. These monitoring programs are designed to support the information needs of the CEM Program as well as other Metlakatla initiatives. They are also completely resourced by Metlakatla staff and community members.

Status Update

We created the Metlakatla Membership Census in 2015 to gather data on socio-economic, health and cultural values that were identified in the CEM Program. The Census has been delivered to Metlakatla members in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2022. We plan to carry out the Census every two years, with the next one planned for 2024. 

We have also initiated the Metlakatla Clam Community Monitoring Program in 2018 to gather clam population data and beach habitat data. Clam surveys have continued on multiple Metlakatla beaches every year, with more surveys planned in 2024. The monitoring program also plans to conduct crab population surveys in 2024. Metlakatla partnered with PollutionTracker to gather regular contaminant data in the region including clam and crab tissue samples. 

Metlakatla Membership Census

The Metlakatla Membership Census was created in 2015 to gather data on socio-economic, health and cultural values. The Census also collects important demographic information as well as data that supports other Metlakatla initiatives. We have carried out the Census in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020 and most recently in 2022. We now have 5 years of data that we did not have before. 

Key Features of the Census:

  • Census targets all Metlakatla members 15+ living in the territory but includes data from members outside the territory
  • Members fill out their own surveys at their own pace
  • Focuses on in-person paper-based surveys with an online option
  • Offers a range of incentives for participating in the Census (e.g., small and large prize draws, small gifts for each completed census, cash distribution)

Key Steps of the Census:

  1. Designing the Census
    • Research best practices for survey design and surveying small Indigenous communities
    • Engage Metlakatla departments to better understand community goals and characteristics
    • Prepare census questions by referencing broad range of sources
    • Hold census testing workshops to validate questions and census length
  2. Delivering the Census
    • Identify eligible respondents and where they live
    • Establish data collection teams and create an in-person and online census delivery plan
    • Promote the census through all available means within Metlakatla and take advantage of community events and other gatherings
    • Create an incentive plan that will encourage members to complete the census
    • Contact respondents and schedule census drop-offs and pick-ups
  3. Analyzing the Census
    • Enter paper responses into an online survey platform
    • Export and clean data according to a set of guidelines to maintain consistency across years
    • Calculate CEM indicators and descriptive statistics for other topic areas
    • Summarize and report on results to Metlakatla leadership, managers and community members

Metlakatla Clam Community Monitoring Program

Prior to CEM, no extensive clam surveys had been conducted on Metlakatla beaches. The goal of the Metlakatla Clam Community Monitoring Program is to determine the status of clam populations, specifically butter clams, in Metlakatla Territory and to collect data on key stressors including contaminants, habitat and harvest levels. Long-term data on clam populations will allow Metlakatla managers to see whether the condition of clams is improving or getting worse, and by how much. 

An opportunity emerged to collect data on contaminants, which can affect butter clam health and density. We partnered with Vancouver Aquarium’s PollutionTracker Program to collect water and tissue samples to assess the types and relative levels of contaminants found at sites in the territory. The PollutionTracker Program has also collected and analyzed clam and crab tissue samples to address contaminant concerns among the Metlakatla community. 

Key Features of Clam Monitoring Program:

  • Different types of beaches are surveyed in Metlakatla Territory (e.g., harvested, unharvested, clam garden sites, etc.)
  • Collects individual and population data on bivalves, with a focus on butter clams
  • Community members work on all aspects of data collection from site selection and pre-surveys to on-site surveys and biosampling
  • Scientifically rigorous and operationally feasible, informed by Metlakatla local and traditional knowledge about where clams live and are harvested

Key Steps of Clam Surveys

  1. Designing the Clam Surveys
    • Gather information from a variety of sources on bivalves, intertidal survey methods and community-based monitoring
    • Consult with Metlakatla departments and review relevant Metlakatla plans to define survey goals and objectives
    • Define the “when, where and what” to survey
    • Select priority beaches to survey
  2. Conducting the Clam Surveys
    • Hire and train Metlakatla staff and community members on survey methods
    • Implement the survey method on beaches in Metlakatla Territory
      • Identify, count and weigh all clams found in sampled plots
      • Measure length, height, weight and age of a sub-sample of butter clams
  3. Analyzing the Clam Surveys
    • Enter field and lab data into excel spreadsheets
    • Analyze the survey data using statistical software program “R”
    • Summarize the key results using data visualizations
    • Communicate and report findings to Metlakatla leadership, managers and community members