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 5 of 10: Life at Ahousat

Tofino locator Long isolated from the rest of Vancouver Island, the Ahousat enjoy a comfortable rhythm in life. No one gets rich, but neither is anyone destitute. More than a decade after its fishery collapsed, the village remains a tight web of roads and footpaths, marked by dilapidated offices, abandoned centres and broken dreams that the outside world brought to Ahousat for its betterment.

There's an RCMP post and a beautiful new wooden fire station, with a new fire truck in its garage and an old one rusting in the bushes. Down the road there's a new ambulance, apparently with nowhere to go because the small village wraps around an inlet, as it always has, with a dead end on each side, and difficult narrow lanes leading to the docks.

Last summer, when a boy fell out of a tree and broke a shoulder, the ambulance would not have made it down the dirt road to reach him even if someone had been able to find the driver. Instead, men carried the boy on a stretcher to the wharf, where a water taxi was waiting to rush him to Tofino.

In fact, there is a surprising number of vehicles for a place that is perhaps one kilometre long. The salmon people drive to the store, to the docks, to the school and then home, where for much of the year they sit inside watching satellite television and drinking, which boys are known to begin at 10.

The store is another testimony to how the salmon culture has changed. Its shelves are packed with cereals and packaged meats, bacon, hot dogs and more canned Prem luncheon meat than fish. In fact, the only seafood it stocks is tinned salmon, clams and sardines.

There are still a few boats tied to the village wharf, and plenty of new TVs and stereos purchased from the last great windfall - the government compensation paid when the fishery was shut down. The entire Nuu-Chah-Nulth nation, the 14-member alliance that spans Vancouver Island's west coast and once dominated its waters, is down to 16 licensed fishing boats from a peak of 80.

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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