Metlakatla people are the stewards of their traditional lands and waters. They have existed on their territorial lands and waters since time immemorial as the eyes and the ears. They have the authority and responsibility under traditional laws to protect cultural and natural values for future generations.  The community is working toward building a Metlakatla Guardian Watchmen program that will support, strengthen and compliment current monitoring efforts. 

Monitoring and stewarding our territory is not a new endeavor and the Nation is working on a number of fronts to gain more decision-making authority. An integrated Metlakatla Guardian Watchmen program is necessary to support resource stewardship initiatives and is vital to protecting the quality of life of Metlakatla community members. It will enable Metlakatla to play an active and effective role in implementing land and resource agreements and managing the territory to meet community values.


Metlakatla people are guided by respect for our people and land based on aboriginal rights and title so that we can assert appropriate control and jurisdiction over Metlakatla traditional territory. Our identity is fostered through the knowledge and pride of our culture, history and traditions. Our vision is that people in our community are strong, healthy, educated and skilled with close interconnections to the land and ecosystems. Our land and the environment must be cared for in a sustainable and holistic way to protect our lands and waters to ensure a healthy environment.

The purpose of our Guardian Watchmen program is to protect the health of our cultural and natural resources by monitoring resource use in our territory and helping to enforce rules and regulations.  Our vision is that the Metlakatla Guardian Watchmen Program will work to:

  • Establish a year-round Metlakatla presence throughout the territory
  • Build the authority to enforce rules and regulations
  • Provide a clear and strong role for community members to be involved in monitoring efforts
  • Develop mentorship relationships between elders and young people in the community
  • Establish strong relationships with all user groups and other agencies operating in the territory
  • Help to improve the quality of life for Metlakatla people by monitoring and protecting species important for food and cultural purposes.
  • Support the implementation of land and marine use plans and the Metlakatla treaty process
What are we monitoring?: 

Currently, the Fisheries Program conducts the majority of Metlakatla’s current monitoring, including:

  • Abalone
  • Food Social Ceremonial Fisheries (salmon, halibut, clams)
  • Roe on kelp
  • Bird by-catch
  • Crab surveys
  • Impact of remediation efforts for salmon habitat on the Ecstall River
  • Eulachon survey on the Ecstall River

Cultural and Natural Values Important to Metlakatla People

Our territory has supported a vibrant Tsimshian population, culture and tradition since time immemorial. In short proximity to the current Metlakatla village, many sites exist that have significant cultural heritage, archaeological and traditional use values that require monitoring and protection. These include village and historical sites, pictographs, middens, petroglyphs, and culturally modified trees.

Metlakatla community members continue to harvest and use the land and marine resources as traditional food sources and for ceremonial activities. Traditional freshwater, marine, and terrestrial foods currently used by the community include eulachon, salmon, clams, seaweed, octopus, seals, ungulates, bears, and a host of medicinal and food plants. Important terrestrial values that need protecting include water quality, riparian areas, productive cedar growing sites for making canoes and totem poles, sites with high biodiversity values, and significant wildlife and fish habitat.

Contact 1: 

Dave Leask, Land and Marine Implementation Manager