Friday, September 4, 2009

Part 2: Interviews from Sointula - Local Knowledge from BC's Central Coast

Part 2 of a 6 part series - by Kirie McMurchy

Working for the summer for Living Oceans Society, interviewing people involved in the fishing industry, the one thing every single person implied was that fishing was not just a job, it was a lifestyle. This excerpt is taken from my interview with Crystal Siider whose family has a long history of living in Sointula. Sitting on the deck of her boat, the Mailee III, she had a huge smile when she’d talk about the sense of community and bringing her children up as part of that unique community. She helped out on her father’s boat as a child and now fishes with her husband. They have two daughters, now nineteen and fourteen.

Excerpt of interview with Cryslal Siider (contributed with permission)

"You meet so many wonderful people and hit so many different towns along the coast [when you’re fishing]. After gillnet openings, we would all meet, a big group of us. We called it Sea Float up in Rush Brook in Prince Rupert and we’d always have big potlucks. Everybody would make a dish and we’d set up our chairs on the docks. [People] would have their guitars out, and this fellow from the lower mainland named Beanie – he’s David Suzuki’s cousin, he was a gillnetter and he had a boat called the Easy Come – he would bring out his guitar and we’d all put our ear plugs in. Very social, it was a really social atmosphere on the weekends. Everybody was very competitive out on the grounds but you’d leave that there. You’d come into the dock and you always secretly hoped everybody did just as well, maybe that you caught two more fish than them, but that everybody did well. You never wanted to hear the stories of somebody blowing up an engine or losing their gear."

"[Sointula] definitely was and still is one of the most respected fishing communities on the coast. It’s always had very honest, and hard working good fishermen. [My nephew], he’s gone fishing with his mum and dad and his grandpa and his uncles. He and his girlfriend at the time, they weren’t married yet, had gone to Cancun, they’d rented a jeep and they were traveling around the Yucatan Peninsula. They drove into a small community called Punta Allan, and it’s a small fishing community, and they walked into this little hole in the wall pub and they were going to have a beer and a bite to eat. A fellow came up to them and asked "where are you from?' and he said 'Oh I’m from British Columbia, Canada' 'Oh, where abouts in BC?' 'Oh we’re off the north end of Vancouver Island.' 'Oh, where abouts?' 'Oh a little community called Sointula, I’m sure you’ve never…' 'Sointula?! Do you know Dave Siider?! I met him out fishing.' 'That’s my grandpa!' You meet people that know fishermen here. It’s a small world."

"We’re not kids anymore, we’re participating as adults now and bringing up our kids on the boat. Both of them had a chance to spend summers with us and they took turns, and made a little bit of money, and got to meet a lot of people. [My eldest daughter] Cailyn is out fishing now and I think she’s really enjoying it. It’s hard work, it’s different working for somebody other than your parents. You have a different perspective of it. [My younger daughter,] Scotia, has always been a little deckhand. She never got sea sick or anything and she was always so fascinated with whatever was coming up in the shrimp trawl. She used to sit up in the sorter, where we would dump the shrimp and sort through it all, and we’d have her sitting on a little basket with her gumboots, and her dress, and her little dolly and she’d sit there for hours and hours. It was great having them out on the 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

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