Fort Providence hopes to begin commercial fishing this summer, hiring residents to catch fish for processing at a newly renovated facility in the hamlet.
Mike Vandell, a councillor for the Deh Gah Got’îê First Nation in Fort Providence, said: “We decided to try the fishing industry because we have a lot of guys here that actually fish in Hay River with other fishermen, so it was a good fit for us.
“A lot of guys can prepare fish traditionally, but this is commercially, so it has to be specifically cleaned and filtered and filleted.”
The community’s plan requires final approvals such as a commercial fishing licence from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Vandell, who has overseen renovation of the fish plant, said about eight men in the hamlet are skilled fishermen and can help ramp up production.
“We’re excited about a new industry, it creates jobs,” Vandell said. “We’re 94 percent there, it’s just the minor details to get it done.”
Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge of the Deh Gah Got’îê First Nation said new fishing equipment arrived half a year ago.
A winter fishing pilot didn’t work out as well as planned, but Bonnetrouge said the community hopes to launch a year-round operation for whitefish, pickerel and trout.
Vandell said the Fort Providence plant would become a step in the supply chain toward a bigger fish plant under construction in Hay River. He envisages Hay River advising the types of fish required so the Fort Providence workers can send it over after local processing.
Some processed fish will be kept in the hamlet for residents to buy.
The First Nation hopes to create a smokehouse beside the fish processing plant to create dry fish that can be vacuum-sealed and sold in the NWT.