empowering women through fishing

Fishing for Success defies gender roles

by Natalie Haire

Last summer, during my Canada summer job with Fishing for Success, I was lucky to have the opportunity to tag along with Kimberly Orren for the Girls Who Fish program.

Girls Who Fish is a community program taught by women for women of all ages, to give them a hands-on opportunity to learn traditional Newfoundland fishing knowledge and culture. The program is offered through Fishing for Success, a not-for-profit based out of the Island Rooms of Petty Harbour. Kimberly Orren, the co-founder of Fishing for Success, takes the lead on this program, breaking the cycle of the fishing tradition being passed down through men.

We got a great catch! Some of the bigger ones put up quite the fight.

I learned so many new skills on my cod fishing adventure with Girls who Fish. Kimberly started by teaching us how to properly dress in fishing gear and each piece’s function. This was followed by a talk about boat safety. After the beautiful boat ride out through Petty Harbour, myself and the other girls learned how to bait a hook and how to hand-line fish for cod. I was able to catch a few cod fish, including one so big I needed help pulling it up over the side of the boat. On our fishing trip we also learned about traditional techniques used to determine plentiful fishing locations. Once we made it back to the fishing stage with our fifteen fish, which is the most you’re allowed to catch in the recreational cod fishery, we learned about the process of washing, gutting, and filleting fish.

It was so inspiring to be surrounded by so many young women eager to learn skills that are predominantly taught to men, and to learn them from a woman who forged her own path in the male-dominated fishing industry. It was wonderful to take on new challenges in such a safe and supportive environment.

Kimberly says that teaching women to step up to a task without male intervention goes beyond the fishing stage, and could promote equality in other places such as the classroom or the office. Girls Who Fish’s self-proclaimed goal is “empowering women to more, from the shore, to the boat, to the boardroom”.

Girls Who Fish takes place on the first and third Sunday of every month year-round, rain or shine. For a 50$ anual fee, female-identifying people of all ages and backgrounds can come together to enjoy an array of cultural activities including hand-line cod fishing, weaving, making fish paintings, iceberg watching, and ice fishing.

Girls who Fish is just one of many ways to get involved in learning traditional fishing culture at the Island Rooms of Petty Harbour. For more information on other programs offered by Fishing for Success, visit their website: http://www.islandrooms.org.

After a great time with Fishing For Success, Natalie joined Guide to the Good in July of 2019.

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Fishing for Success

a nonprofit that seeks to transmit traditional fishing knowledge and skills, particularly to youth and women. they also promote the use of local fish as a culturally significant and sustainable food.