Norway House Fishermen’s Co-op
The great tradition of fishing has long played an integral role in Indigenous culture and a group of northern Manitobans are working together to make sure that practice benefits fishers and their communities for years to come.
Established 55 years ago, the Norway House Fishermen’s Co-op is an organization of 50 members, all of whom are Norway House First Nation who were born and raised in the community. The majority come from a long line of successful fishers, learning their craft through family ties.
“Many, if not all of our members are multi-generational fishers,” said the Co-op’s president, Langford Saunders. “They started commercial fishing at a young age, helping their parents, uncles or siblings in their harvesting activities.”
Saunders says the co-operative’s members harvest nearly a million kilograms of whitefish and pickerel annually in their work in the north basin of Lake Winnipeg and Playgreen Lake. It is the largest single commercial fishing operation in Manitoba.
He says Norway House Fishermen’s Co-op is the result of the commitment of its members and a shared desire to work together to succeed.
“You have to have heart,” said Saunders, about achieving business success in northern Manitoba. “You have to want to make it work, because no one is going to give it to you. You must be dedicated and willing to work hard.”
Proud of their heritage and the opportunity to strengthen their organization and the region’s fishing industry, Co-op members enjoy a workplace like no other.
“I have freedom – everything is close by, such as the wilderness and nature all around,” said Saunders. “These are things that many people in large cities pay a lot of money to see, yet we live it every day.”