stats Making the Business of Life Easier

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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)


Trouble in paradise

Story by John Stackhouse. Photos by John Lehmann.
The Globe and Mail, November 19, 2001

Part 10 of 10: Bridging the gap

Tofino, BC, locator The job of bridging the gap between the two camps falls to Tom Paul, Pacific National's representative on the reserve. He says it can be done. He once opposed the farms, and was even chased away after trying to sneak aboard one to see what environmental damage it was causing.

"Three or four years ago, we were ready to fight these guys. We were going to tow their pens away," he says. But now the notion of creating a Burnt Church on the Pacific rarely crosses people's minds.

Paul came to believe that his band had more to gain than lose from the farms. His job has allowed him to move back to Ahousat from Port Alberni and, he says, "our welfare rate is down by 50 per cent." The rest of the welfare cases would disappear, he adds, if the band signed the draft agreement allowing more farms and perhaps even became a part owner, as Pacific National has suggested.

In the meantime, friction remains.

There are the environmental issues, unconfirmed and unresolved, and a more difficult challenge: that haunting feeling in Archie Frank's mind that he is somehow betraying his late father by farming salmon in order to feed his children.

After the Norwegian directors visited the island and joined the Ahousat elders for a feast, the band council still said it was not ready to sign an agreement, and Paul says he pays a personal price for his allegiance to the company. He believes his children are being taunted at school, and he is so uncertain of his position in the village that he will talk about only on the telephone so others can't listen in.

Remote communities everywhere are known for being a bit paranoid, which makes radical change difficult - especially if it involves a big outside company that is in a hurry.

Fed up, some Pacific National executives have refused to deal with opponents within the band. Tom Paul fears the company will just push ahead. It needs the band's approval to move two fish farms from the southern end of Vancouver Island to Clayoquot Sound, and has said it will find another place on the island - and take some of the Ahousat area farms with it - if the band does not show more co-operation.

Early this month, the band council issued a new endorsement of the fish farming industry, effectively pushing Campbell and his friends in the environmental movement aside. But it has yet to sign the draft protocol, or agree in writing to the new Pacific National farms.

Tom Paul fears that his band, if it does not move quickly, could lose skills, marine technology and perhaps one day a stake in the farms. His company could also lose dedicated workers, environmental advice and a bulwark against the greens.

Under growing pressure to produce better returns on its big investment, the company has already lost several non-native staff. "They have a corporate attitude," Paul says of his employer. "They have their issues just as Ahousat as their issues."

He feels that, despite the past, the salmon people and the salmon farmers must accept a common future - one that's a bit slower for the company and a bit riskier for the natives, but perhaps provides both with a less bitter harvest.

THIS STORY AT A GLANCE (Parts 1 to 10):

Photo Essay
The Salmon People

1. 'I took the farm job because it was a last resort'
Big industry, new technology changes life for the salmon people

2. 'Pink gold'
Ahousat's fishing boom

3. 'Friends don't let friends eat farmed salmon'
The reserve's dispute over salmon farming

4. The science of aquaculture
Escapes, 'die-offs', and the many sides of debate

5. Life at Ahousat
No one gets rich, but neither is anyone destitute

6. The frenetic growth of the industry
'When something's been in your family for four or five generations, anything new is a tough pill to swallow'

7. Farming, not catching, the fish
'There's a reason 30 per cent of the world's fish is now produced by aquaculture'
8. Negotiating with the natives
'People really need to spend some time learning about each other. If you end up in court, you've failed.'
9. The risks and challenges of learning to adjust
'There's a future for our people in this industry as long as it's done right'
10. Bridging the gap
'Three or four years ago, we were ready to fight these guys'



photo essays
Two worlds - photo essay

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