Environment & Economy By Bonnie Waycott 227 Views

Collaboration with Canada’s First Nations

How one woman is helping First Nations communities and the salmon farming industry on Vancouver Island to work more closely together.

Aquaculture is said to be fundamental to the livelihoods and food security of people in coastal communities. By offering employment, providing new skills and taking steps to alleviate pressure on marine biodiversity, the industry’s impact on local economies can be extremely significant.

For Grieg Seafood BC, a salmon farming company based on Vancouver Island, this has recently become a key part of company policy. Marilyn Hutchinson, director of the company’s Indigenous & Community Relations division, is working towards improving the economic future of British Columbia’s First Nations communities after 15 years working in business and economic-development projects – including collaborations with an indigenous economic-development agency. She joined Grieg Seafood in April 2011, but her interest in aquaculture goes back more than a decade.

“I was drawn to [this role] after seeing many countries struggling to feed their people,” she says. “With the economic rise of middle-class populations, the demand for better-quality protein came along with it. Farming our oceans was a natural next step, and I wanted to be a part of it. I saw an employment opportunity with Grieg Seafood, which sought the kind of skills and experience I had developed. The rest, as they say, is history.”