Ross Wilson discusses the Metlakatla Development Corporation’s stewardship branch.

Ross Wilson discusses the Metlakatla Development Corporation’s stewardship branch.

The business of stewardship for Metlakatla

Any discussion of industry taking place with Metlakatla will have to include the environment of the North Coast.

Any discussion of industry taking place with Metlakatla has to include the environment of the North Coast, Ross Wilson of the Metlakatla Stewardship Society told delegates of the National Aboriginal Business Opportunities Conference at the end of April.

“Even though Metlakatla has adjusted to business, they have never given up the responsibility to be stewards of the land … Metlakatla leadership has said time and time again that we will engage in business, but not at the expense of stewardship. The stewardship program is to ensure access to resources is in perpetuity for the membership,” he said.

“Metlakatla is looking at a long-term strategy, not only for business but for stewardship, so there is going to be a heavy emphasis on looking at what is going to come out of the interests in LNG. Part of the processes we have been involved in is to look at opportunities not just for Metlakatla but for others.”

Wilson said a major focus for the Metlakatla Stewardship Society, which was formed in 2012 by the Metlakatla Development Corporation, is doing work related to the environmental assessment of various liquefied natural gas developments in the region. To better facilitate that work, the corporation has formed its own environmental monitoring company.

“[It] provides not only the trust of the work that is going to be done in environmental studies on behalf of the nation, but it provides the opportunity for monitoring careers for those who live in Prince Rupert and the Metlakatla territory,” he said.

“People are very interested in these monitoring positions and they are looking at long-term opportunities for careers.”

Outside of LNG, Wilson noted the development corporation has engaged in partnerships and relationships with more than 30 groups over the past 28 related to business opportunities. But, he said, it is about more than just economic development.

“The development responsibilities are not just about providing business ventures but about employment, and not just jobs but careers. The work that we are doing is looking at career type-training and capacity building so that when industries like LNG come in, there is going to be a strategy so we can move forward as a nation,” he said.