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 8 of 10: Negotiating with the natives

Tofino locator Originally from Gravenhurst, Ont., the mild-mannered Onclin gives little hint that he has been at the centre of an intense battle. Even after 16 years in the fish-farm business here, he is not fully accustomed to the peculiar logic and language of West Coast eco-politics. But he believes that views on both sides are becoming more moderate.

When he first came to Vancouver Island, his only contact with native people was on the soccer field. Last summer, the company flew Ahousat's elected and hereditary chiefs to Norway for an aquaculture conference, and then brought corporate directors from Oslo to the reserve.

“We have to learn to get along,” he says. “People really need to spend some time learning about each other. If you end up in court, you've failed.”
Kevin Onclin
biologist, Pacific National

The more Onclin has come to know native people, the more he has come to sense that what they fear is the unknown. And he concedes that his company don't fully understand the ambitions of the Ahousat. At first, it thought the struggling band would jump at the opportunity for jobs and investment. Some officials raised the possibility of a joint venture, with the band taking an ownership stake.

Not only was that idea greeted with skepticism, the band's elected council stunned the company when the two sides came close to drafting a protocol to cover a joint environmental policy, hiring practices and management for future investments. The council said it wanted to sign the agreement, but could not move ahead as long as even a few people like Darryl Campbell opposed it. That was the way the Ahousat had always worked, in accordance with the Nuu-Chah-Nulth saying "hishtukish ts'awalk," or "everything is one."

Onclin is willing to be patient with the natives. As he heads his boat back to Tofino, along passages lined with rain forest, he says it will take more time for the two cultures - corporate and native - to come together. With a dozen $2-million farms to pay for, Pacific National doesn't have forever to get the band's agreement to more farms, which the government wants. But it also may not have a choice.

"We have to learn to get along," he says. "People really need to spend some time learning about each other. If you end up in court, you've failed."

In the end, he believes, the fish farms will survive, just as feedlots for livestock will survive on the mainland. Consumers are too hungry for anything else.

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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