Christina Smith and Glen Clellamin have four boys and a dream – to build a commercial fishing business that will support their kids well into the future. But creating a successful business is a daunting task. Without the specific knowledge needed to attract investors and create a solid business plan, their first attempts were not successful.
Recognizing the barriers that people like Christina and Glen face when trying to get a foothold in the fisheries industry, our Nations and CCIRA created the Central Coast Commercial Fisheries Association (CCCFA). The CCCFA has invested heavily in commercial dive training (Newsletters 1 and 4), licenses and quota for communities, and has worked with Bella Bella to revitalize their processing plant by providing a reliable flow of seafood products (Newsletter 2).
Glen is one of the people who took advantage of training opportunities and became a certified commercial diver. But diving credentials alone are not enough to get a business up and running. That is why the CCCFA began helping people make viable business plans and acquire loans to kick-start their business ideas. For Christina and Glen, this was just the support they needed – and the man who is helping them with all of this is Don Allan.
Supporting local entrepreneurs
Don is the Economic Development Officer for the CCCFA. He’s been working with local entrepreneurs to help them establish their own commercial fishing businesses and improve our Nations’ access to local fisheries. “My job is to help re-establish a First Nations commercial fishing fleet on the central coast as a viable economic driver,” he explains. “I want to work with local entrepreneurs to help get more people involved in the fishing industry here.”
Not only does Don help people draft business plans and acquire loans, but he provides ongoing business planning support along the way. “The people here already know how to catch fish,” says Don. “I am here to help out with the other parts of business that many people don’t like doing – like creating efficiencies around auditing and financial planning. I want to see people benefit financially from their fishing expertise.”
“We would not be where we are now without the direction and resources Don and the CCCFA have provided…we really could have flopped so easily if we did not have them to call upon for help when we needed it. We know we can trust them and they’ll give us great advice.” — Christina Smith
With help from Don and the CCCFA, Christina and Glen finished their business plan, bought and re-fit a reliable boat and secured investors and quota. “We would not be where we are now without the direction and resources Don and the CCCFA have provided,” says Christina. “We always go back to them if we don’t know something. It makes us feel like we are part of a team. We really could have flopped so easily if we did not have them to call upon for help when we needed it. We know we can trust them and they’ll give us great advice.”
Glen and Christina’s family crest is the grizzly. Honouring the hope that this endeavor will support their family and provide a future for their four sons, they named their new business Grizzly & 4 Brothers. This fledgling company is now part of a bigger plan to revitalize central coast fisheries and create opportunities for future generations.
Capturing more value from our resources
“Our long term goal,” says Don, “is to acquire more and more capacity for communities to capture a larger portion of the total value of the seafood products we are fishing.” This means our people should not only be catching seafood, but also working in packing, processing, ice provisioning, distribution and branding of seafood products.
“The more of this work we can do within central coast communities, the more the Nations can benefit from the resources in their territories,” Don explains. In the future, he’d like to see a strong First Nations brand of seafood products that help support our communities while being recognized for their quality and sustainability. “We’ve got a long way to go to get there,” says Don, “but success stories like Christina and Glen and the work of the Bella Bella and Kitasoo processing plants are showing us what is possible for central coast communities.”
“Our long term goal, is to acquire more and more capacity for communities to capture a larger portion of the total value of the seafood products we are fishing.” — Don Allan, Economic Development Officer, CCCFA.
There is a lot of untapped potential in our communities, Don says. “We are in our infancy now, but there is a lot of room for growth. Grizzly & 4 Brothers is a great example of that. In the future, we hope to see more people like Christina and Glen running successful businesses that help support the local economy on the central coast. “
At the time of writing Glen was out fishing urchin in his boat and Christina was busily managing the numerous administrative tasks. Things are looking good for Grizzly & 4 Brothers – the urchin and sea cucumber market is expected to grow rapidly in the next 10 years. “We know we are going to succeed,” says Christina, “because we have the tenacity and the support we need. And we know our kids will carry it on. We are just happy we can do this for them.”