What I saw, heard, and learned from this matriarch of aquaculture, the one and only Ms. Linda Sams, Sustainable Development Director, Cermaq Canada

Linda Sams, Matriarch of Aquaculture Canada

What I heard and learned from this Matriarch of Canadian Aquaculture, the one and only Ms. Linda Sams, Sustainable Development Director, Cermaq Canada

Listening to Salmon Farming Inside and Out Aquaculture Podcast is always a pleasure for me. I have gained quite a bit of knowledge from their guests. Although I must admit, I do not always commit to the whole episode. I usually tune in for a listen and if it captures my attention, I will most certainly stick around for the end. Linda Sams episode was a fascinating listen.

Linda Sams grew up on a dairy cattle farm and she loved it. What I learned about her from this podcast’s episode is that it is obvious she has a love for growing food. Her passion was evident when she talked of community farming, whether it was about the family’s hobby farm, or their dairy cattle farming, she showed up. The moral of the segment is when communities unite to produce healthy, sustainable food while respecting each other and the environment that is when true progress happens.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of living in the country, or of knowing farming families can tell you about the community-life. It’s a tradition of supporting and uplifting each other, reminiscent of barn raising days, that spirit of collective assistance and camaraderie remains intact.

There was one powerful topic that slipped away like water in the interview, and we must pay attention to it. Linda Sams mentioned “And being in 4H”, nonchalantly. But it is the foundation, most likely, that formed who she is today; a powerful woman of aquaculture who is caring and passionate about the welfare of animal and people.

The concept of 4H refers to the 4-H Youth Development Program, which is a global organization that empowers young people through various educational programs and activities. Activities, include clubs, camps, workshops, and community service projects and it aims to provide young people with opportunities for personal growth, leadership development, and the acquisition of practical skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

The name “4-H” stands for “head, heart, hands, and health,” which represent the four essential areas of development the program aims to foster in young individuals.

Head: The development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. Encouraged to explore new ideas, broaden their knowledge, and engage in experiential learning.

Heart: The development of positive values, character, and strong sense of responsibility. It aims to promote leadership skills, teamwork, and a commitment to making a positive impact in one’s community.

Health: Focuses on promoting physical and mental well-being, understanding healthy lifestyle choices, nutrition, fitness, and personal safety. Encouraged to take care of themselves and make informed decisions regarding their own health.

Hands: The importance of learning by doing. Encouraged to actively engage in hands-on projects, practical activities, and to use those developed and practical skills and knowledge with a sense of accomplishment.

Linda Sams had a passion for agriculture, but alongside that was her passion for marine biology. By the time she realised her passion for marine life, she was already programmed to be curious, to care, to build better than what she had found, and of course to self-care. What better way to take care of self than it is to perfect an industry that will feed her, and her future generations.

I did eventually go on to university to do degrees in Marine Biology. This was the time of the original Jacques Cousteau talks about farming the oceans, and that really captured my interest. I went to Simon Frasier University and there were mariculture courses being offered at Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, I signed up for that right away and then went to learn about growing everything finfish, shellfish, seaweed, and polyculture, which is now called multi-Trophic, so of course my imagination was captured.

The other name-drop that slipped through was “Jacques Cousteau”. He founded the Cousteau Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the world’s oceans. Through the society, he promoted sustainable practices, campaigned against pollution, and raised awareness about the importance of preserving marine ecosystems.

And yet, he was the person to also promote farming the ocean, he believed that the ocean, with its vast resources, had the potential to contribute significantly to the world’s food supply in a sustainable manner. By farming the ocean, Cousteau believed it was possible to reduce overfishing and alleviate pressure on wild fish stocks, while also providing a renewable and abundant source of protein. He saw this approach as a way to address food scarcity, provide livelihood opportunities for coastal communities, and protect marine ecosystems.

Linda Sams lived the pioneering times of aquaculture, and I enjoyed listening to her discuss her entire career, that is still going strong. A career that focusses on feeding the world, on raising up communities, and moves with the times by listening to people and utilising state of the art technology. Oh, what an industry!

I then heard about some farms opening up on the Sunshine Coast near Sechelt, BC, and I just packed up my little bright yellow Pinto with my gear…and because I came from doing work on a farm, I already owned rubber boots.”

I think I got hired not because of my degrees or even my farming background, but because I knew how to use power tools and I could dive. That is how my adventures started on the Sunshine Coast. Yeah, it was rustic then, let me tell you!”

I believe it was more than that. Linda Sams has the pioneering spirit, the adventure in her soul, the goal to grow sustainable food, and all of this is fueled by absolute chutzpah!

Not only that. As a woman, Linda Sams forged her path through a time, place, and industry, by defying societal norms and shattering gender barriers. A true pioneer, she ventured into uncharted waters where only a handful dared to tread.

Read Part Two coming out Wednesday, as we travel along with Linda Sams through her brilliant journey as a mover and shaker in the aquaculture industry.

Image: Screenshot of Linda sams.