Friday, August 28, 2009

Part I: Interviews from Sointula - Local Knowledge from BC's Central Coast

Part 1 of a 6 part series

Let me introduce myself. My name is Kirie McMurchy. I grew up on the island community of Sointula and have recently moved away to attend Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario to receive my bachelor’s degree in global development studies. I was fortunate enough to be awarded this amazing opportunity to work with Living Oceans Society for the summer. My main project has been to interview people in Sointula who have been involved with the fishing industry and prepare the collection to potentially be printed one day as a book. I have learned a tremendous amount about the history of my community and the fishing lifestyle. I didn’t think that either the Sointula community or the ocean could be any closer to my heart, but this project has drawn them in further and helped me to understand and appreciate both in a whole new light. For that, I am ever grateful.

The following is an excerpt from my interview with Denise Aleksich who comes from a family with a long history of living in Sointula. One thing I noticed while interviewing Denise was that she seemed to have really, truly enjoyed the fisherman’s lifestyle and appreciated that her family had been able to sustain themselves that way for generations. For one who doesn’t know what living in a coastal community is like, I thought her words might help shed some light on why Living Oceans Society is dedicated to healthy oceans for healthy communities. I’m so grateful towards everyone who let me interview them and allowed me to share their precious insights on a fascinating lifestyle that has, unfortunately, disappeared for so many people.

Excerpt of Interview with Denise Aleksich (contributed with permission)

"I started seining with my dad when I was thirteen. There weren’t a lot of young girls [out seining]. It was a very interesting environment to be in. I loved being out on the boat, I loved the fishing part, and I loved the traveling. My dad was a traveler. We traveled to every part of this coast. It was very exciting and it was a marvelous lifestyle. I never really thought about [being in rough weather], but after years as you start getting worn down. I used to sit up on the bridge when we’d cross [Queen Charlotte] Sound from here up to Namu or Bella Bella and if there was a really good swell I’d let the water wash over me: I was a nut bar! But I was so excited by it. I loved being out, I loved everything about it, everything excited me: the phosphorescence in the water, any kind of wild life we saw, absolutely everything. I was always animated when I was on the water, nothing ever got me down even all the snarls and the snags and the messes we got into. My dad, he hit so many rocks – they used to call him rocky or something, Crash Peterson, that’s it – he was an adventurer. It wasn’t until after I had kids that that feeling just dissipated. It’s now when I think about being on a boat, I think of work. I think of bracing myself all the time, I think of how much organization it takes to be out in a little boat in bad weather and all those things. You’re so full of every little detail when you’re on a boat. If you’re in a house it’s “oh yeah, I have to do this and this and this” but there’s no time constraints, the dishes will sit there ‘till the morning. It’s not like that on a boat."

Kirie McMurchy is a Guest contributor to coastal voices blog. If you have Local Knowledge about the ocean or about living on the Central Coast of British Columbia - we want to hear from you! Contact us at

No comments:

Post a Comment