City of Campbell River thanks the region’s fish farms for their donations

Campbell River thanks Local fish farms for their donations

The City of Campbell River thanks local fish farms for their donations to specialized recreation. 

Alexis Samaroden hosts Coffee and Connections – courtesy city of Campbell River

Thanks local fish farms 

Grieg Seafood has sponsored programs for adults and youth with disabilities for the past seven or eight years. 

When Grieg said they were not sure they could donate as much in 2020, the city asked Cermaq Canada West and MOWI to also contribute. 

“They agreed, but Cermaq decided they want to do more. So, they give a little bit more,” said Deb Simpson, a Specialized Recreation Programmer who normally operates out of  the Campbell River Community Centre. 

These corporate donations were all “under $2,000.” 

The only other donation Simpson mentioned was “a healthy snack and drinks for our After School program for youth with disabilities or special needs” provided by Thrifty Foods.

Cermaq, MOWI and Grieg Seafood

This is not the first time that donations from these fish farm companies have made the news. Shorty after the pandemic began, Cermaq Canada and Grieg Seafood BC donated 60,000 pounds of salmon to Food Banks Canada. Mowi Canada West responded by delivering 1,000 pounds of Atlantic salmon to food banks in Campbell River and Port Hardy.

The three companies have fish farms in the Discovery Islands and offices in Campbell River

The Campbell River Business Recovery Task Force identified fish farms as one of the three key first dollar industries on which Campbell River’s economy depends

Cermaq, MOWI and Grieg Seafood bring roughly $150 million a year into Campbell River and the surrounding area through wages and purchases from supporting businesses. 

Photo courtesy city of Campbell River

Specialized Recreation programs

Simpson said their donations definitely help. 

Some of the ways they raised funding in previous years, like selling concessions at large events in the Community Centre, were not available in a pandemic.

“So this year, we’ve decided to charge a little bit. In the past, programs have either been low cost or free,” explained Simpson.

She added that there is still a program to help low income adults with disabilities.

“They can apply though the LIFE (Leisure Involvement For Everyone) program for assistance, which gets them 52 ‘drop in’ programs a year. As well, if it is a registered program which costs a big chunk of money, they can get three of those programs at 50% off.”    

After it became impossible to meet in person, Campbell River’s specialized recreation programs turned to ZOOM. They started with a chatroom, then moved on to dance and another movement program. 

Simpson says their most popular program is ‘singing for fun’:

“At the height of COVID, when people were locked down, John Hollywood and I would help him ZOOM to our participants at home. Since things started back up in September, that program was one that stayed both live, in person, and on ZOOM.” 

She added, “Our Monday evening social program is also really popular.  We started that on Zoom. It is a bit different because this often used to involve meals, which is not possible during COVID times.”    

Hundreds of thousands of dollars a year

Linda Sams, Sustainable Development Director for Cermaq Canada, said, “We actively support the communities in which we live and work through hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in community sponsorships and in-kind funding for projects, programs or initiatives, and we know communities and society are made stronger by diversity and inclusion. The programs offered by the specialized recreation program are a wonderful example of providing opportunity for social and community connection, which as we know, is more important than ever during this pandemic.”   


MOWI made special donations to  specialized recreation
Photo courtesy city of Campbell River

Individual stories

Simpson mentioned a number of individual stories.  

She normally discontinues programs over the summer, but one of the participants in ‘Coffee and Connections’ decided it was too valuable to set aside. Alexis Samaroden took over the ZOOM event and still plays a leadership role now that the program has returned to ‘in person’ meetings. 

“He’ll take the attendance. He’ll make sure the conversation keeps going and more quiet folks have an opportunity to talk,” said Simpson. 

She mentioned a ‘non-verbal autistic’ person, who holds his ear right up to the computer screen during ZOOM meetings because ‘he wants to hear and be involved.’

“He doesn’t talk, but knows almost all the words to all the songs that we sing. He is especially marvellous when he sings “If I had a million dollars by the Bare Naked Ladies. He has our Canadian content down pat,” said Simpson.  

A weekly ‘walking and talking program’ is led by a young woman in a wheelchair. 

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

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