1. Rooted in Metlakatla’s Values

Metlakatla’s values, simply put, are what matters to Metlakatla people, and these values span all areas of Metlakatla’s way of life: cultural identity, environment, social/health, economic prosperity, and governance. The value pillars are equally weighted in terms of importance to ensure a holistic approach and to recognize the interdependency among pillars.

Status Update

Through an extensive engagement process with the Metlakatla community in 2014/2015, Metlakatla selected 10 priority values, four of which became the focus of a pilot project. The four pilot values are: butter clams, employment, housing, and food, social and ceremonial (FSC) activity. We are planning to hold our first Metlakatla CEM Gathering in 2024, where we will bring together community members, leadership and staff to identify and select which values will be the focus of our program’s work for the next coming years.


Identifying and Selecting Values

We followed six steps to identify and prioritize values for inclusion in the Metlakatla CEM Program. An example from the environmental pillar is provided below. 

Build a comprehensive values inventory (Step 1): Review all relevant documents to identify a long list of Metlakatla values for each pillar. A value is included in the inventory if it was referred to as a value or management priority or frequently emphasized as important to the Metlakatla. 

Define a set of criteria for selecting values (Step 2): Selection criteria provide clear and justifiable rationale for narrowing the long list to a candidate list of values. For example, in the environmental pillar: 

  1. Does the value hold traditional or other importance to the Metlakatla First Nation?
  2. Is the value sensitive to the type of development expected in the region?
  3. Are there responsive, measurable and practical indicators for tracking the value’s condition?
  4. Is the value representative of important habitats in the territory?
  5. Does the value hold an important role in the ecosystem?
  6. Are there species at risk considerations associated with this value?

Work with experts and collaborators to identify and fill gaps (Step 3): Interview subject matter experts including Metlakatla staff and members with important traditional or local knowledge to review and discuss the candidate list of values. They provide input and advice on how the list could be improved, on what values might be missing and whether any values overlapped. 

Hold a community workshop to choose priority values (Step 4): We held two workshops with Metlakatla leadership, managers, staff and community members to review, discuss and confirm the list of priority values. Having representation from all Metlakatla organizations ensures that a broad range of values and priorities are reflected in the final choice of values. The keys to a successful workshop are open dialogue and a willingness to work through differing opinions, coupled with good facilitation and clear presentation of the best available information. 

Prioritize values in the face of real-world constraints (Step 5): A critical part of the value selection process is an explicit consideration of real-world implementation constraints (resources and capacity). The following implementation criteria are used to guide prioritization discussions:

  1. Is the value a priority given the development context and perceived condition of the value?
  2. Does Metlakatla have an existing mandate to manage and effect change for the value?
  3. Does Metlakatla have the ability to influence change for the value through partnerships?
  4. Does Metlakatla have the capacity to monitor and manage the value?

Grow the number of values tracked in the CEM Program (Step 6): The final set of priority values does not represent the full extent of Metlakatla’s priorities and values. They also do not represent the full range of local and regional values that need to be tracked to have a clear understanding of cumulative effects issues and concerns in the territory. An implementation plan should be developed to include other candidate values into the CEM Program over time. 

Measuring Values

Values are the things that people care about and want to protect or restore. Indicators are measures of those values and when monitored over time, can tell us how a value is doing and whether the value is trending up or down. When selecting indicators, our goal is to maintain an emphasis on the overall condition of a value as opposed to tracking the impacts from specific projects or activities. Development projects will come and go, so it is important to focus on the values themselves through condition indicators rather than stressor indicators. 

Condition Indicators measure the overall state or condition of a value. Condition indicators help track the state of the value but require further investigation and the use of stressor indicators to isolate what is causing a change in the value’s condition. 

Stressor Indicators measure the underlying factors that exert pressure on the condition of a value. Stressor indicators are better suited to assessing specific project level effects because they can isolate the effect of specific activities on a value but may not capture other important effects on a value’s condition. 

There are an unlimited number of indicators for any given value. The following considerations can help identify the best indicator:

  1. Accurate: Does the indicator accurately reflect changes in the value and is it appropriate to the spatial scale of the value?
  2. Practical: Is the indicator feasible to monitor and easy to understand?
  3. Sensitive: Is the indicator sensitive to development and/or possible mitigation efforts?
  4. Relevant: Can the indicator inform the work of Metlakatla organizations?