It’s imperative that a company or organization have the ability to identify their core values AND be able to speak to how they embody those values in the day-to-day operations of their organization. Because our businesses – both the V.Ægirsdóttir© brand and the Wild Yukon Furs© brands are values-driven, our company values are easy to identify and easy to explain. Every part of how our businesses function integrates our values and this is something we’re very proud of. I can’t wait to share them with you.
Before we do anything within our supply chain, we centre ourselves in a perspective of respect. We respect ourselves, our supply chain partners, the animals that give themselves to us, the ancestors who came before us, those who lead and guide us in this life, the generations of those who will come after us, the land upon which we work and play, the people whose traditional territory we are on as we work, learn, and play, the sky, water, and earth. When this is how we begin, we are ready to go forward.
After we’ve tuned ourselves into all the ways we enact respect in ourselves as people and within our business interactions, we shift slightly to include humility. In trapping, humility looks like accepting each day as it comes and knowing that what’s meant for us will come to us. We don’t brag about the quantity of our fur harvest and we do not pose for photos with the animals. We don’t say negative things about the animals because we know that receiving the gift of their furs is one that can be lost as a consequence of such behaviour. We understand that an empty trap isn’t a loss, rather a lesson that is being given instead. We know we aren’t owed one single fur and that every one is something to appreciate.
In the design and retail context, humility is shown by welcoming every person equally and being open to learning as much as we teach. It is about making the space a safe one for questions to be asked and for answers to be given kindly and in a way that promotes openness. We have expertise but we don’t know everything. The awareness that we we have much to learn is what humility looks like in our store.
Also accepting that we will have missteps in life and in business is how we practice living with humility. But the willingness to learn from those missteps and trusting that we will be held up with kindness and compassion when we err is what fortifies the safety of that space.
Gratitude and humility travel together. We are grateful for every component of our trapping life – the beautiful weather, our cozy cabin, our reliable snowmobiles and vehicles, every single animal that gives itself to us. Those are all things we’re grateful for. We’re also grateful to learn about animal relationships, habitats, food sources, the interrelatedness of those things and the mystery of how it all works together. We’re grateful for every lesson that comes to us in every imaginable way. We have gratitude for deriving our living from this practice. We’re grateful that we are in a position to share the story of what we do and why we do it with a global audience.
Our ethics are rooted in culture; particularly George’s Tlingit culture but also in a culture that is built upon all of the other values in this list. We firmly believe that we have a responsibility to model the values we hold so dear by behaving in ways that are in alignment with those values. We don’t waste the fur and meat that we harvest, we give offering (usually tobacco) on the trap line, when we harvest birch, when we pick berries or medicines to name a few. We give a prayer of gratitude and humility, asking for safety and happiness during our time on the trap line and beyond. We hold each other accountable to the expectations of respect, humility, and gratitude. We also remind one another that the power of our words is enormous and that we have an obligation to use words with great care. We are deeply committed to the ethical standards that are established by the governments responsible for the fur harvest in addition to those established by the First Nation.
At the end of the day, this is what it all comes down to. How the animals are harvested, how we interact with one another on the trapline or in the skinning shed. On a cold dark night and on a bright, clear afternoon. Rested or tired, hungry or fed. Every move we make originates in love, is fuelled by love, and continues because of love. Love for self, love for mankind, love for the animals, the land, creator, this life. All of it. It all is built upon love.
Because the V.Ægirsdóttir© brand and Wild Yukon Furs© are owned and operated by two humans who love each other, we are so deeply committed to ensuring that our companies reflect that. The late Travis Adams of NuWay Crushing in Whitehorse Yukon was said to be the kind of company president who wanted to build a team so strong that you couldn’t tell who the boss was. I’ll never forget this and it will become part of how we grow our companies. Travis’ example of leadership illustrates how you lead with respect, humility, gratitude, ethics, and love. We are so proud to do the work that we do and to have known leaders who’ve successfully achieved this kind of corporate culture. It’s proof that it’s possible. It’s the standard we’ve always held ourselves to and will continue to do so.
Comment below which one of these values resonates the most for you. Every one of us holds our own unique set of values, I’d love to know which ones we share!
Thank you for spending your time here today. I really appreciate it.