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Unable to answer that question herself, Strobel began a process of talking to as many different people as possible. “I started by reaching out to harvesters who had worked on the East Coast. I wanted to hear their opinions, hear their experience fishing on that coast,” she says, “and dug a little deeper as to what were their experiences on this coast, for Indigenous and non-Indigenous harvesters working together. “I spent months listening, doing interviews, and realized there was so much more to learn, there was just so much to listen to.” Her active listening involved connecting with the five groups in her own fishing “community” — fishing families, members, governments, the Skipper Otto team and other shoreside businesses, along with academics, regulators, community leaders and Indigenous elders. The basic idea, she says, is that “real social change can happen when people come together with a shared objective.” “We designed Skipper Otto to confront entrenched problems in the seafood system,” Stobel writes in an online post. “We knew that our greatest strength lay in the personal, meaningful relationships we’d built in our community, and that we had an important role to play in building bridges between diverse groups of people.” “Through the work of active listening, we realized that, although members of our community come from diverse backgrounds with different perspectives, we share the common objective of building a just and equitable seafood system.” Along the way, Strobel also gained valuable perspective and skills related to conflict resolution. “I was really surprised, actually delighted, how much people wanted to talk — and wanted to be heard,” she says. “Of course, we all want to feel heard, ultimately, and often conflict arises because people don’t feel heard in the first place. “We spend so much time, in our culture especially, talking and not listening,” she adds. “We fight so hard to make our opinion known, instead of stopping to listen and really put in that effort to understand an opposing position first.” She has heard from many people who felt marginalized in fishing and has brought many new people into the CSF. There are now 10 new Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nation fishing families from Port Alberni selling their “economic opportunity” fish through Skipper Otto, and eight Vietnamese Canadian fishers joining the roster of B.C. harvesters. Economic opportunity (EO) fisheries allow small-scale Indigenous fishers to sell salmon from certain runs in B.C. The EO openings are distinct from the FSC harvest (the Indigenous right to fish for food, social or ceremonial purposes) as EO catches cannot be harvested with modern equipment, but rather are landed by hand from small boats.

“This is what we do at Skippper Otto,” she says. “We actively listen, and we actively look for ways to innovate and to bring about justice and equity and new opportunities to connect people in really meaningful ways, and to repair relationships that are typically broken apart by the industrial systems that we live under.” Indigenous connections Beyond the Indigenous fishing families on the B.C. coast, Strobel has forged new connections to Inuit fishermen in the North. Skipper Otto partnered with an Iqaluit-based social enterprise called Project Nunavut and its Lake to Plate project, designed to help fishermen from Naujaat sell their wild-caught Arctic char to southern Canadian customers for fair prices. The goal is to create sustainable incomes for fishing families and maintain their traditional way of life. Strobel has introduced her Canadian customers to Inuit ice fishers Darryl Siusangnark and Simon Qamanirq, and the nuances of the lake-caught Arctic char they pull from frozen northern lakes. This is a unique fishery as the char is not caught in nets while migrating from the ocean and into the rivers, but rather in the remote Arctic lakes that are their final destination. The fish freeze instantly as they hit the -40 C ambient air. And, according to these Inuit harvesters, the fish from each lake has a unique taste. But they all have a sweet “slightly briny” taste, rich with natural oils and reminiscent of salmon in colour. Like the other fishermen in the Skipper Otto roster, there’s a story behind their catch and it introduces consumers to the people, their traditions and their communities. “By selling their fish to southern consumers at fair prices, Inuit fishermen are able to make a living doing what they love,” says Strobel, “using knowledge passed down from their elders to thrive on the land and provide for their families and communities.” Expanding the model The beauty of the CFA model is that, like CSAs, it cuts out several layers of the supply chain, allowing consumers to know exactly where their fish is coming from, when it was caught and by whom. Skipper Otto literally puts a face on your meal — every package arrives bearing a photo of the fisherman or woman who caught the fish, and details about where and when it was landed. The photo builds a new bridge to the local food system, and confidence in the power of your food dollars to effect for social change. The company’s comprehensive website is easy to navigate for shoppers and filled with information and insights — from recipes to Strobel’s ongoing blog, profiling fishing families and highlighting the issues they face.

But Skipper Otto is the first, and one of the only successful



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